In this Edition:
Thoughts on Governor Wolf’s Proposed 2017-2018 State Budget
I was encouraged Tuesday to see a budget proposal from Governor Wolf that does not include any broad-based tax increases.
Senate Republicans fought non-stop for more than two years to prevent two of the largest tax increases in Pennsylvania’s history. We are thankful that we don’t have to take up that fight again this year.
I welcome the Governor’s intention of saving taxpayer dollars. He proposed several measures to consolidate government services and agencies in order to save money. The responsible consolidation of government services is something that I have been fighting for over the past 10 years.
Savings without Sacrificing Service
Budgeting Based on Performance, not Politics
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I’ll be participating in three weeks of public hearings on the proposed budget, beginning February 21. I look forward to working with my colleagues to provide a balanced and sensible budget for Pennsylvanians.
Senate Votes to Implement Performance-Based Budgeting
On Monday, the Senate unanimously passed Performance Based Budgeting legislation, a measure I am sponsoring to streamline and justify discretionary and state government spending. The measure was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Bill 181 would require departments and agencies to justify their budget requests beginning with dollar one -- for all existing and proposed programs for each fiscal year -- before they can receive consideration for budget funding. The bill would create a performance-based budget board to review the performance-based budget plans of Pennsylvania agencies and make recommendations on how each agency’s programs may be made more transparent, effective and efficient.
We need to ensure that the budget is driven by clear and defensible purposes rather than inertia. This type of budgeting is a normal occurrence in the private sector and the private sector does this to ensure every dollar spent produces the desired results. On the other hand, Pennsylvania government continues to add new programs and continue funding existing programs without critical checks or balances. This bill will help ensure that effective programs are identified, ineffective programs addressed, and better funding decisions are made for Pennsylvanians.
Senate Approves Ban on Taxpayer-Funded Collection of Union Political Contributions
The Senate on Wednesday approved legislation to prevent the taxpayer-funded collection of money for government union political activity.Senate Bill 166 ensures in statute that political campaign funds are not collected by public sector unions by the Commonwealth and school districts. Similar legislation, Senate Bill 167, would make this taxpayer protection permanent through an amendment to the state Constitution. That measure is currently before the Senate. Senate Bill 166 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Acts to Enforce Immigration Laws
The Senate voted 37-12 Tuesday to advance legislation to require municipalities to report illegal immigrants who are arrested and pose a danger to Pennsylvania communities and residents.
Senate Bill 10 addresses “sanctuary cities,” requiring cities and counties to honor detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for those who are arrested by local authorities.
Under the bill, municipalities that do not enforce federal immigration policy would not be eligible for state grants for law enforcement purposes and could be sued for negligence for releasing an individual with a detainer who subsequently committed another crime. The measure was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Legislation Strengthening PA Equal Pay Law Approved by Senate
Legislation to update and strengthen Pennsylvania’s Equal Pay Law was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 241 allows employers to determine wages based on the level or amount of education, training or experience, and prohibits employer discrimination against an employee who files a complaint.
The bill also prohibits employers from requiring that workers not disclose their salary. The measure was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
The Senate approved and sent to the House two additional bills this week:
Senate Bill 3 amends the Abortion Control Act to reduce the maximum gestational age for legal abortions from 24 to 20 weeks and prohibits dismemberment abortion.
Senate Bill 170 requires comprehensive reform measures at the Delaware River Port Authority.
Appropriations Committee Round-Up
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved three bills on Tuesday:
Senate Bill 10 holds a “municipality of refuge” accountable for not enforcing state and federal laws relating to immigration.
Senate Bill 137 codifies the Civil Air Patrol’s state operations in Title 51 under the leadership of the Adjutant General.
Senate Bill 166 ensures that political campaign funds are not collected by public sector unions through government-provided mechanisms with taxpayer resources.
Senate Bill 167 calls for a Constitutional amendment ending the practice of using taxpayer-funded payroll systems to collect money used for politics.
The Senate reconvenes Monday at 1 p.m. You can watch session at PASenateGOP.com.
Twitter and Facebook: I post regular updates on legislative action, committee developments, useful state-related information, happenings in the 24th Senatorial District and more on Twitter @SenatorMensch and on my Facebook page.If you find this e-newsletter useful, I invite you to visit my website www.senatormensch.com for more information about your state government.
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