Senate Republican Leaders Respond to Governor’s Budget Plan: Urge Lower Spending, Limited Borrowing, Help for Job-Creators


Following Governor Wolf’s budget address, Senate Republican leaders said they will continue their push for a fiscally responsible budget that controls spending, holds the line on new taxes and continues to invest in education and job-creation. Senate leaders said they believe that commitment in years past has contributed to job growth and a healthier economy. 

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25):  “Given that the economy in Pennsylvania has never been stronger, the reality of our fiscal situation is that we must reduce the proposed spending for 2019-2020. Senate Republicans remain committed to a budget that respects taxpayers while helping continue to foster job growth and economic development across our Commonwealth.  It is imperative that we continue to look for reforms and ways to make government more efficient, instead of looking for ways to spend more tax dollars.”

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34):  “Senate Republicans and the General Assembly have a clear legacy of fiscal responsibility. As we begin to work through the 2019-20 budget with the Governor, we see no need to stray from these core values that have led to historic levels of education funding, a strong environment for job creation and a path of economic growth for our Commonwealth. We look forward to working with the Administration to chart a continued path of fiscal restraint that ensures a more firm financial footing for our future.”

Senate Appropriations Chair Pat Browne (R-16):  “Thanks in part to strong fiscal discipline by the General Assembly during tough financial years which has contributed to improvements in the state’s economy, revenue projections show the Commonwealth finishing the current fiscal year ahead of projected estimates for the first time in a decade. While this is certainly good news, with mandated costs continuing to rise year-over-year, it is important that we remain cautious when setting spending levels for this year’s budget and continue to prioritize our limited discretionary revenue on programs and services which are vital to the people of the Commonwealth and have shown proven results. We look forward to delving further into the Governor’s budget proposal as we look for a budget solution that works for all Pennsylvanians.” 


Kate Flessner – Senator Scarnati (717) 787-7084
Jenn Kocher – Senator Corman (717) 787-1377
Matt Moyer  – Senator Browne (717) 787-1349          

Senate Republican Leaders Issue Responses to Governor’s Budget Proposal: Continue Their Commitment to Holding Down Spending, Taxes

Responding to Governor Wolf’s budget address today, Senate Republicans said they will continue their commitment to enacting a fiscally responsible, on-time state budget.  Senate leaders said that while the proposed budget represents a solid starting point for negotiations, they raised concerns about the level of new spending and a $250 million tax increase that the governor is proposing.

 Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25):  “Today’s budget proposal by Governor Wolf provides us with a good starting point as the Legislature begins work on the 2018-2019 state budget. While we are encouraged to see that the Governor has finally joined us in opposing broad-based tax increases, there is still a great deal of work to be done.  His proposed budget increases state spending at a time when we should be living within our means, just as working families across our Commonwealth are forced to do.  The Governor’s cuts to health and veterans programs and drastic cuts to agriculture are immensely troubling.  As budget discussions advance, we are committed to continuing our goal of balancing the budget without broad-based tax increases and excessive spending.”

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34):  “The budget is a work in progress, but we are optimistic in seeing a number of shared priorities, including education funding. The Governor is asking for $1.2 billion in new spending and a $250 million tax increase that will not happen, all while making cuts to programs like cancer research that are important to people. This means that as talks begin, we are looking to find about a quarter-of-a billion dollars in efficiencies in state government. We remain hopeful that we will be able to work with the Governor to deliver a responsible, frugal, timely budget this year.”

Senate Appropriations Chair Pat Browne (R-16):  “For the FY 2017-18 budget cycle, we are optimistic that revenues will finish the fiscal year ahead of projected estimates. This is certainly positive news for the Commonwealth. However, we cannot get careless when setting spending levels which continue the cycle of deficits that have recurred for the last 10 years. While the average rate of appropriations growth over the past 10 years has been 1.2 percent, the Governor has proposed a 3.7 percent increase in spending this year. As in previous years, it is the responsibility of General Assembly to take a close look at those spending levels and bring them more in line with the rate of revenue growth.”


Kate Flessner – Senator Scarnati (717) 787-7084
Jenn Kocher – Senator Corman (717) 787-1377
Matt Moyer  – Senator Browne (717) 787-1349

Landmark Mensch Bill to Implement Performance-Based Budgeting Signed into Law

Harrisburg – Landmark legislation sponsored by Sen. Bob Mensch (R-24) to require all departments and agencies to justify their budget requests beginning with dollar one was signed into law Monday.

“Pennsylvania government spending has become unsustainable, yet we continue to both fund new programs and increase funding for existing programs,” Mensch said. “I believe that through a performance-based budgeting process we can identify effective programs and get rid of the ineffective ones.”

Senate Bill 181 (Act 48 of 2017) will require the Secretary of the Budget and the director of the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) to establish a schedule of performance-based budget reviews for all agencies at least once every five years. The reviews will include:

  • Detailed descriptions of all agency line item appropriations and programs.
  • Descriptive information and data related to existing performance measures for appropriations and programs.
  • An agency mission statement and goals and objectives for the budget year and successive planning years.
  • Any other information as the IFO may require.

Performance reviews will also be required for all state tax credit programs.

Under Senator Mensch’s legislation, performance measures must include outcome-based measures, including efficiency measures, activity cost analysis, ratio measures, measures of status improvement of recipient populations, economic outcomes or performance benchmarks against similar state programs or similar programs of other states.

The new law will also establish an independent Performance-Based Budget Board to review the budget plans developed by the IFO and to make recommendations on how each agency’s operations and programs may be made more transparent, effective and efficient.

“Performance-based budgeting is a normal occurrence in the private sector and is utilized to ensure that every dollar spent produces the desired result. I think that we should be doing the same with taxpayer dollars,” Mensch said.  “This budgeting process will call on our legislators to make some tough decisions, but we have to stop increasing the size and scope of government operation without justification.”

Senator Mensch’s most recent edition of the Mensch Report, a monthly TV show, focuses on Senate Bill 181. During the show, Senator Mensch interviewed Kevin Shivers from the NFIB, Matthew Knittel from the Independent Fiscal Office, and Gene Barr from the Pennsylvania Chamber.   (Note: This program was recorded prior to SB 181 passing the General Assembly and being signed into law on October 30.)

For more information on Senator Mensch’s legislation, visit  State updates can also be found on Senator Mensch’s Facebook at, or Twitter @SenatorMensch


CONTACT: Sarah Rasmussen  (215) 541-2388

Senate Leaders –PA Budget Compromise Crucial Following State’s Credit Downgrade

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25) and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34) issued the following statement on the need to pass a fiscally responsible, balanced budget, after the Commonwealth credit rating was downgraded today by Standard and Poor’s.

“Resolving the state’s fiscal issues through compromise must happen immediately. In reaching a final resolution, the budget must be balanced for this year and next. We need to plan responsibly today for a better tomorrow, understanding the far-reaching importance of the tough decisions that we have to make now.

“The significance of this downgrade is something that we grasp and is part of why the Senate worked to finalize a responsible budget package in July.  We agree with S&P’s concerns about the need for stability in our financial plans to address the ongoing structural deficit.

“We are concerned about the overall fiscal health of the Commonwealth. The perceptions of Pennsylvania and its finances are vital when attracting economic growth of small and large employers.”


Kate Eckhart – Senator Scarnati (717) 787-7084
Jenn Kocher – Senator Corman (717) 787-1377                  


Senate Leaders Underscore Difficult Decisions Made by Senate to Avoid Negative Budget Ramifications

Senate Republican leaders offered the following statements on the announcement by the state Treasurer that the Commonwealth needed a $750 million line of credit in order to keep the General Fund from falling into negative territory at the end of the month.

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25): “Senate Republican Leadership understood the gravity of the 2017-18 state budget that was supported by most House and Senate members. The Commonwealth’s revenue situation is dire and the Senate worked efficiently to address it. Difficult decisions were made and we certainly did not come to the components of the revenue package lightly.”

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34):  “We understand the severity of the Commonwealth’s finances. It’s this reason that the Senate acted quickly last week to adopt a reasonable revenue package to fund the spending plan approved by the House and Senate. We have an obligation to govern and make the difficult decisions that will move toward steadying our financial footing.”

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Pat Browne (R-16):  “The Treasurer’s report today confirms what Senate Leadership has been saying for months regarding the dangerous financial situation facing the Commonwealth without a balanced budget. That is why it was critical and urgent for the Senate to act last week on a fiscally responsible revenue package. Without it, as the Treasurer also highlighted, the state’s financial position will quickly deteriorate, putting at risk private sector job creation and vital state programs and services.”

Kate Eckhart – Senator Scarnati (717) 787-7084
Jenn Kocher – Senator Corman (717) 787-1377
Matt Moyer – Senator Browne  (717) 787-1349


Senate Approves Revenue Package to Fund State Budget

The State Senate today approved and sent to the House of Representatives legislation that provides the revenue component to fund the Fiscal Year 2017-18 state budget, which was approved in June.

Senate Republican leaders offered the following statements on House Bill 542, which includes limited borrowing and modest, targeted revenue enhancements that offer the promise of meeting the state’s current and future financial obligations.

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25): “The reality of our state budget situation this year required many difficult decisions to be made.  With today’s completion of a revenue package to fund the budget spending plan, we have taken a responsible step forward to set our Commonwealth on solid financial footing.”

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34): “If you look at the state budget and take out mandated costs like human services, corrections and pensions, we are spending less money today than we were in 2010.   We’ve done everything we can in state government to contain spending in the areas that we have the ability to do in order to avoid any tax increase.  Unfortunately, we are here today because we ran out of our ability to do that. If we are going to maintain our responsibility to educate our children, provide for higher education, provide for human services and pay our debts, we are in a position that we have find the revenue needed to make that happen.”


Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Pat Browne (R-16): “This financial package of bills provides the necessary revenues needed to close the gap between current revenue collections and the fiscal year 2017-18 state budget passed last month. Despite the tremendous short term financial challenges facing the Commonwealth and with over a decade of belt tightening, these are financially sound proposals that balance the budget and provide for necessary and critical state programs and services.”

Kate Eckhart – Senator Scarnati (717) 787-7084
Jenn Kocher – Senator Corman (717) 787-1377
Matt Moyer – Senator Browne  (717) 787-1349

Senate Budget Plan Holds Line on Spending, Boosts Support for Schools

The State Senate today approved a spending plan for fiscal year 2017-18 that holds the line on spending, increases funding for education and funds core responsibilities of state government, according to Senate Republican Leaders.

Despite massive increases in mandated expenses – including pensions, health care and human services – the overall increase in spending in the proposed budget is just 0.2 percent over the current year, and well below the rate of inflation.

 The spending total of $31.996 billion is nearly $650 million less than Governor Wolf’s original budget request and adheres to the approach demanded by taxpayers by controlling state government spending and cutting through expensive layers of bureaucracy.

Along with the fiscally responsible approach to the budget, the spending plan meets the core responsibilities of government and funds key priorities – maintaining a quality education system, promoting job growth and addressing some of the most serious challenges facing Pennsylvania communities.

Senate Republican leaders offered the following statements on House Bill 218, which now goes to the House for consideration:

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25): “This year’s budget required many difficult decisions to be made.  While the reality of our fiscal situation makes some spending reductions necessary, we were able to restore a portion of funding to budget lines that are important for all Pennsylvanians.  Our goal continues to be protecting taxpayers from broad-based tax increases that have been detrimental to Pennsylvania in the past.”



Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34): “The budget adhere to what has been demanded by taxpayers – controlling state government spending while still providing historic education funding and money for other priorities. By putting taxpayers first, we have held the spending increase to less than 1 percent. We have done this in the face of significant fiscal challenges and growth in mandated spending. We look forward to continuing the talks to achieve a revenue package that moves toward bringing more fiscal stability to state government.” Listen


Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Pat Browne (R-16): “In recognizing the financial challenges the Commonwealth continues to face, this budget provides a fiscally-responsible spending plan with a modest increase in funding for vital state programs and services, while still protecting hard working individuals and job creators from onerous tax increases.  This budget also continues the state’s dedication to providing a quality education for all Pennsylvania students as it increases funding for basic education, special education, early childhood education and early intervention to unprecedented levels.”  Listen


Kate Eckhart – Senator Scarnati (717) 787-7084
Jenn Kocher – Senator Corman (717) 787-1377
Matt Moyer – Senator Browne  (717) 787-1349

Examining the Proposed Consolidation of the Departments of Aging, Drug and Alcohol Programs, Health, and Human Services

Joint Hearing

Senate Aging and Youth, Senate Health and Human Services, Senate Appropriations, Senate Intergovernmental Committees and Senate Philadelphia Delegation

Examining the Proposed Consolidation of the Departments of Aging, Drug and Alcohol Programs, Health, and Human Services

May 18, 2017

Plumbers Local 690 Union Hall
12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.


Watch Live


12:00 p.m. – 12:05 p.m.

Opening Remarks 

  • Committee Chairs 

12:05 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Panel I – Public Health 

  • Michelle Williams – Senior Managing Director of Integrated Health Services, Philadelphia Public Health Management Corporation
  • Dr. Maria Daly – Program Manager, Rittenhouse Women’s Health Center
  • Matthew Thomer – Consumer of Department of Health-funded services, Tourette Syndrome Alliance 

1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Panel II – Addiction Treatment Services 

  • Michael Harle – President/CEO, Gaudenzia, Inc.
  • Mel Wells – President, One Day at a Time
  • Roland Lamb – Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services, City of Philadelphia           

1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Panel III – HCBS for Individuals with Disabilities Under 60

  • Nicole Pruitt – Program Director, Inglis Adult Day Program; Secretary, PA Association of Adult Day Service Providers; Member, Long Term Care Council
  • Nancy Salandra – Director of Independent Living Services, Liberty Resources

2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Panel IV – Aging Advocacy

  • Pamela Walz, Esq. – Co-Director of the Aging and Disabilities Unit, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia
  • Diane Menio – Executive Director, Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE); Member, Long Term Care Council
  • Hechie Zinman – Chair of the Board of Directors, LGBT Elder Initiative; Member, Long Term Care Council

2:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Panel V – Aging Services

  • Renee Cunningham – Associate Director, Center in the Park; Board Member, PA Association of Senior Centers
  • Holly Lange – President/CEO, Philadelphia Corporation for Aging

Senators have plan to reduce number of state government offices, reduce costs

HARRISBURG – Two senators from opposite sides of the state have seen firsthand the floors of empty office space currently owned by Pennsylvania state government agencies. Now, Senators David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks) and Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) have found a way to rehabilitate state-owned space and eliminate the need for additional rental costs.

“We have employees working in rented office space in some of our communities while we have vacant state-owned office space literally right across the street,” Argall said.

Under Argall and Vulakovich’s proposal, the state could sell naming rights to the buildings owned by the state similar to what the state did in 2012 when the State Farm Show Complex’s Exposition Hall was renamed Weis Market’s Exposition Hall. The grocery store chain agreed to a five-year contract netting the state $750,000. The senators want to put the funding into a specific account that will rehabilitate unused office space.

“It is no secret we are in a tough fiscal situation right now regarding the upcoming budget and we need to explore innovative ways to cut costs and raise revenue.  This bill by Senator Argall and I is one step toward bringing in revenue without raising taxes to put us on the road to long-term fiscal solvency,” Vulakovich said.

The measure will also require a report by the Department of General Services to the General Assembly to provide annual updates on the initiative.

According to the senators, the goal of this legislation is to move state employees out of leased facilities and back into offices already owned by the state in order to reduce the cost to taxpayers.

At the end of last year, a report requested by the senators pointed out ways the state could better utilize state-owned office space, how to have more accountability of unused office space and how to save valuable taxpayer resources.

Examining the Proposed Consolidation of the Departments of Aging, Drug and Alcohol Programs, Health, and Human Services

Joint Hearing of Senate

Aging and Youth
Health and Human Services
Intergovernmental Operations Committees

Examining the Proposed Consolidation of the Departments of Aging, Drug and Alcohol Programs, Health, and Human Services

May 1, 2017, 11 am

University of Pittsburgh
Parking Map



11:00 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.
Opening Remarks

  • Committee Chairs

11:10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Panel I

11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Panel II

  • Roy Afflerbach, Principal, The Afflerbach Group, LLC
  • Krista Geer, Executive Director, Active Aging, Inc.
  • Julian Gray, Esquire, Julian Gray Associates Pennsylvania Association of Elder Law Attorneys – Combined Testimony
  • Carol Sikov Gross, Esquire, Sikov & Love, P.A. Pennsylvania Association of Elder Law Attorneys – Combined Testimony
  • Art DiLoreto, Deputy Director, Pennsylvania Association of Area Agencies on Aging

12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Panel III

  • Dave Black, President/CEO of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and Economic Development Corporation
  • Rick Russell, Senior Advisor, State Street Advisors

Combined Testimony of Dave Black and Rick Russell

12:30 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Panel IV

  • Sarah Kirkle, Review Director, Texas Sunset Advisory Commission

1:15 p.m. – 1:35 p.m.
Panel V

  • Zach Shamberg, Dir. Of Advocacy & Leg. Affairs Pennsylvania Health Care Association
  • Ron Barth, President & CEO, LeadingAge PA

1:35 p.m. – 2:05 p.m.
Panel VI

  • Elizabeth Mulvaney, Southwestern Pennsylvania Partnership for Aging – Combined Testimony
  • Kimberly Pirilla-Scalise, Southwestern Pennsylvania Partnership for Aging – Combined Testimony
  • Ray Landis, Advocacy Manager, American Association of Retired Persons
  • Estella Hyde, Pennsylvania Council on Aging

2:05 p.m. – 2:25 p.m.
Panel VII

  • David Cottington, Business Operations Manager, BeHome Partners, Inc. Member Pennsylvania Homecare Association
  • Brenda Dare, Independent Living Supervisor, TRIPIL

2:25 p.m. – 2:35 p.m.
Panel VIII

  • Cheryl Andrews, Executive Director, Washington Drug and Alcohol Commission

2:35 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
Panel IX

  • Nancy Kukovich, CEO, Adelphoi