Back to Basics: House Republican Appropriations Committee Offers Reform Bills Following Budget Hearings

Apr. 08, 2024 /

WHAT: Republican House Appropriations Committee Chairman Seth Grove (R-York) will host a press conference to unveil “Back to Basics” government reform bills. This legislative package is based on observations and feedback from agencies during the 2024 budget hearings. Other confirmed speakers include state Reps. Dawn Keefer (R-York), Ann Flood (R-Northampton), and Kristin Marcell (R-Bucks).

Budget Hearing Wrap with Governor’s Office of the Budget

Mar. 07, 2024 /

House Republicans also focused their questions on Pennsylvania’s structural deficit and spending down the Commonwealth’s General Fund Surplus and Rainy Day Fund to pay for future budgets. There is $2.5 billion in new or expanded spending on government programs, which will increase our budget in future years. Chairman Grove ended his questions with Sec. Monson by saying, “If I were planning to do a get out of business sale, this is the kind of budget I would do. I would empty my reserves, sell my assets, and get out of town.”

Budget Hearing Wrap with PA Department of Human Services

Mar. 06, 2024 /

House Republicans focused their questions on the DHS's core functions and their inability to address basic access to care. Questions were asked about the failing children and youth system, lack of access to maternity care, and overall hospital sustainability across the entire Commonwealth. Additionally, Republicans probed the Secretary about new initiatives and continued growth in spending.

Budget Wrap with PA Department of Education

Mar. 05, 2024 /

House Republicans focused their questions on the Governor’s Basic Education Funding proposal, which is based off the Basic Education Funding Commission’s (BEFC) Democrat Majority report, as well as the Governor’s “Blueprint for Higher Education.” Additionally, Republican’s asked about school choice options for parents, career and technical education, and various other programs within the PDE. House Republicans again found agency leaders unable to answer the most basic questions regarding the most significant pieces of the Governor’s 2024-25 budget proposal.

Budget Hearing Wrap with PA State Police

Mar. 04, 2024 /

House Republicans focused their questions on the financial needs of PSP and ensuring those needs are met through the Governor’s budget proposal. Republicans asked about background checks for gun purchases, trooper recruitment, legalization of marijuana, the statewide emergency services radio, the Special Emergency Response Team (SERT), and crime labs.

Budget Hearing Wrap with PA Department of Transportation

Mar. 04, 2024 /

House Republicans asked several questions about the Governor’s proposal to dedicate an additional 1.75% of sales tax collections, or $283 million, for public transit funding, and how this funding would be distributed throughout the Commonwealth. Additionally, Republicans inquired about requiring electric vehicles to contribute to the Motor License Fund, PennDOT contracts for snow removal and travel brochures, the overall state of road projects throughout the Commonwealth, and automatic voter registration.

Budget Hearing Wrap with State-Related Universities

Feb. 29, 2024 /

House Republicans questioned their involvement in any meetings or discussions regarding Governor Shapiro’s “Blueprint for Higher Education” and the financial implications on each institution. Additionally, Republicans asked about efforts to combat antisemitism on campuses while simultaneously allowing for free speech, performance-based budgeting, and how to make our state-related universities more affordable for students.

Budget Hearing Wrap with Judiciary

Feb. 29, 2024 /

House Republicans questioned the financial transparency of the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC), who is responsible for operations of courts within the Commonwealth. Additionally, Republicans asked about the unilateral decision of the Supreme Court to allow for venue shopping in medical malpractice lawsuits, the rationale for the “traveling courts,” and the significant increases in the Judicial budget.

Budget Hearing Wrap with Dept. of Environmental Protection and Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources

Feb. 28, 2024 /

House Republicans questioned the DEP on improvements of their permitting process, dam safety, and regulatory updates, including the status of the Regional Green House Gas Initiative (RGGI) and the Climate Action Plan. Additionally, Republicans asked about the increased spending within DCNR and their ability to keep up with their current core functions before taking on new initiatives.

Budget Hearing Wrap with PA Community College Leaders

Feb. 28, 2024 /

House Republicans focused their questions on trying to understand the potential impacts of the Governor’s “Blueprint for Higher Education” on our valuable community colleges. Once again, Republicans were shocked to learn how little work has been done on this massive, proposed idea to upend and merge the funding of two higher education systems in Pennsylvania that often serve different populations.

Budget Hearing Wrap with PA Dept. of Health with Dept of Drug and Alcohol Programs

Feb. 27, 2024 /

House Republicans inquired about the fiscal health of each agency and asked pointed questions on the amount of funding for current programs and proposed new initiatives. Additionally, Republicans asked about long-term care facility regulations, hospital sustainability, adult-use cannabis, and substance abuse disorder treatment.

Budget Hearing Wrap with PA Department of State

Feb. 27, 2024 /

House Republicans focused their line of questions on how prepared the Department of State (DOS) is for the upcoming 2024 elections, as well as the lack of uniformity in the Commonwealth’s election process. Additionally, Republicans asked how the DOS plans to spend proposed increases in “Voter Registration and Education” equitably, the Governor’s unilateral decision to begin automatic voter registration, and the department’s continued plans to improve the professional licensure process.

Budget Hearing Wrap with PA Dept. of Insurance

Feb. 26, 2024 /

House Republicans focused their questions on the financial health of the Pennsylvania Insurance industry and how the Pennsylvania Insurance Department (PID) is allocating its funding. Concerns were raised about the Governor’s proposal to transfer $50 million from the Workers’ Compensation Security Fund for the benefit of subsidizing low- and middle-income families’ health insurance premiums.

Budget Hearing Wrap with Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency

Feb. 23, 2024 /

Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) Executive Director and CFO Robin Wiessmann and Deputy Executive Director and Chief Counsel Leonidas Pandeladis testified today before the House Appropriations Committee. House Republicans focused their questions on how the PHFA is improving their services after their high-profile failure with distributions from the Federal CARES Act for rent and mortgage relief programs. Additionally, Republicans asked for details on the Governor’s plan to spend more money through the PHFA in the PA Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund, commonly referred to the “PHARE” program.

Budget Hearing Wrap with PA Dept. of Corrections and Probation and Parole Board

Feb. 23, 2024 /

House Republicans focused their line of questioning on cost increases for the department, even though the prison population in Pennsylvania has been declining. Republicans also asked what the DOC can do to help counties deal with the recent increase in high-profile prison escapes and increases violent incidents.

Budget Hearing Wrap with PA Department of Agriculture

Feb. 22, 2024 /

Department of Agriculture (Ag) Secretary Russell Redding, and Executive Deputy Secretary Greg Hosttetter testified today before the House Appropriations Committee. House Republicans focused their questions on proposed spending increases for the Department and how these new dollars will directly help Pennsylvania farmers. Additionally, Republicans asked, and were again dismayed, at the lack of planning for another of the Governor’s key budget initiatives – adult-use cannabis regulated by the Department of Agriculture.

Budget Hearing Wrap with PA Department of Aging

Feb. 22, 2024 /

House Republicans focused their questions on how the Department of Aging is meeting the needs of Pennsylvania’s growing elderly population. Additionally, Republicans asked why the department’s budget material provided no details on the $11.7 million request for the “Aging Our Way, PA” plan, and how this investment will reduce the need for more costly levels of care for the growing senior population. Republicans also asked pointed questions on the Department’s handling of reports of elder abuse and neglect, leading to frustrating replies from Sec. Kavulich.

Budget Hearing with Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education

Feb. 21, 2024 /

Dr. Daniel Greenstein, the Chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), testified today before the House Appropriations Committee. House Republicans focused their questions on the fiscal health of the 11 Universities under the PASSHE system. Additionally, Republicans asked about the potential issues with Governor Shapiro’s opaque “blueprint” for Higher Education and its impact on PASSHE schools.

Budget Hearing Wrap with PA Department of Revenue

Feb. 20, 2024 /

For the second consecutive year under Governor Shapiro’s leadership, spending is poised to outpace revenue, leading House Republicans to question the fiscal stability of his proposal. Additionally, Republicans recited conversations with their constituents concerning the untimely processing of applications for Property Tax and Rent Rebates last year which resulted in an unnecessary delay of much needed relief for seniors.