Feb. 20, 2024

Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Rick Siger, along with Executive Deputy Secretary Mike Hanna Jr., testified before the House Appropriations Committee. House Republicans focused their questions on many of the bloated and potentially wasteful spending proposals within DCED. This includes spending millions on new programs while cutting others with a track record of success at the same time. Additionally, Republicans questioned what changes need to be made outside of DCED to make Pennsylvania more attractive to recruit and retain businesses, the negative impacts of raising the minimum wage to levels that will result in job losses, and the plan for the $500 million PA SITES program.

Key Takeaways

• Governor Shapiro introduced his “Pennsylvania Gets It Done” plan, in which DCED plays a significant role. However, the plan was light on concrete, practical ideas, which can help make Pennsylvania competitive right now. Today’s hearing did little to show how this proposal will work.

• When asked, the DCED Secretary could not provide a complete analysis of their review of the effectiveness of agency programs. Secretary Siger has been leading the department since January of 2023.

• House Republicans asked pointed questions about the PA SITES program. Rather than issue $500 million in bonds and incur more debt, House Republicans advocated for using available funds for this one-time expense, which would be more prudent. No details were provided on what types of projects would be approved or how the program would ensure no one geographic region of the state would be favored.

• DCED shared various plans for spending money to grow the Pennsylvania economy but did not come to the table with plans for improving our tax climate and real permitting reforms. 

Notable Q & A

Rep. Torren Ecker asks DCED Sec. Siger how he plans to market Pennsylvania to potential businesses and what changes need to be made outside of DCED.  

Rep. Clint Owlett questions DCED Sec. Siger how this budget will bridge the rural broadband gap permanently and if the department’s spending aligns with this goal.

Rep. Lou Schmitt asks DCED if their review of agency spending includes programs that can be cut, Sec. Siger offers no examples.

Full Hearing

Watch the full hearing here.

Rep. Seth Grove, Republican Chairman of the PA House Appropriations Committee
196th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives