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

Members of the House Appropriations Committee joined House Republican Appropriations Chairman Seth Grove (R-York) to discuss a bill package called “Back to Basics.” These bills aim to assist state government in performing its basic and essential tasks.

“Throughout the 2024 budget hearings, we heard from many agencies who are failing at their basic tasks,” Grove said. “Our committee kept notes of every agency’s testimony, their budget requests, and the past year's results under the Shapiro Administration. We have drafted 13 pieces of legislation and identified two existing bills as action items we can do right now to assist the Shapiro Administration in getting back to basics.”

“Before the General Assembly considers funding $2.5 billion in new and expanded government programs as Governor Shapiro has proposed in his 2024-25 Budget, we must ensure agencies can perform their basic functions,” Grove added.

The “Back to Basics” bill package would:

• Require the Department of Aging to post a non-compliant Area Agency on Aging (AAA) list and corrective action plans on its website. (Rep. Louis Schmitt, R-Blair)

• Require a local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) to request information surrounding the cause of death from County Coroners of an individual who was the subject of an elder abuse investigation. (Rep. Schmitt)

• Require the departments of Aging, Health, and Human Services to work closer together to ensure reports of elder abuse are investigated in a timely manner. (Rep. Ann Flood, R-Northampton - House Bill 537)

• Require the Department of Corrections to undergo an audit by the Office of the State Inspector General for financial and operational deficiencies. (Rep. Zachary Mako, R Northampton & Lehigh)

• Require the auditor general to conduct a financial and performance audit of the Pennsylvania House Finance Agency. (Rep. Kristin Marcell, R-Bucks)

• Require all agencies to notify and reflect federal and state audits in their budget materials to the General Assembly and the Governor’s Budget Office. (Rep. Mike Cabell, R-Luzerne)

• Authorize the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to review all 800 Department of Environmental Protection permits for effectiveness and make recommendations on which permits could be eliminated or combined. (Rep. James Struzzi, R-Indiana)

• Require the Office of Administration to advertise open government positions on government websites for individuals seeking employment or welfare-to-work programs. (Rep. Grove)

• JobsPA will take the Commonwealth’s existing controlled structure of the Pennsylvania liquor system and would allow for the acquisition of the system’s assets to a private nonprofit quasi-public corporation. The nonprofit quasi-public corporation will become a strong private, public partnership with the Commonwealth and the net profits, after all other obligations are paid, will go directly to grants for economic development activity distributed by the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA). (Rep. Natalie Mihalek, R-Allegheny & Washington)

• Require all promotion travel materials in Pennsylvania rest stops to promote Pennsylvania-based destinations. (Rep. Mihalek)

• Require all special funds to have a seven-year outlook in the governor’s budget proposal. (Rep. Grove)

• Allow easier access to the ballot and increase funding for elections by permitting candidates to pay a fee in lieu of signatures to appear on the ballot. (Rep. Grove)

• Require all state government agencies to audit health care dependents to ensure eligibility. (Rep. Eric Nelson, R-Westmoreland)

• Strengthen the current performance-based budgeting law to require agencies to adopt findings. (Rep. Torren Ecker, R-Adams & Cumberland)

• Use a zero-based budgeting phased-in approach for government agencies. (Rep. Dawn Keefer, R-York, House Bill 1133)

More Information

Keefer: Now is the Time for Zero-Based Budgeting in PA

Schmitt Bill to Hold Shepherds of Taxpayer Dollars Accountable

Mako Introduces Legislation to Bring Accountability to Department of Corrections

Eligibility Review Could Save Taxpayers Big Money, Nelson Says

In the News

Pa. GOP lawmakers call on Gov. Shapiro to return to zero-based budget plan he used as Montgomery County commissioner

“The agencies determine what their core purpose and mission is,” she said, “and then the agencies have to align each action with those core missions, assess what their needs are, their costs and the efficacy of each program that they have.”

Shapiro implemented zero-based budgeting while chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, according to Keefer.