State Budget Update
3/23/2017
        
It is an honor to have been asked to serve on the House Appropriations Committee. This bipartisan group of members is primarily responsible for passing legislation dealing with expenditures of money by state government. Our first significant task involved the three weeks of budget hearings that took place in Harrisburg in late February and early March. The vantage point I had as a first-time committee member gave me a new perspective on the budget process.

Majority Chairman Stan Saylor from York County, a first-time committee member but not a newcomer to the Legislature, did a great job running the proceedings. He did away with the reading of lengthy testimony from groups appearing before us and focused on committee members asking individual questions of testifiers. It forced them to go “off script” and provide answer in an impromptu fashion.

The format gave me a chance to inquire about issues that are specific to the 138th District. I questioned Department of Labor and Industry Secretary Kathy Manderino about the number of telephone calls my district office has received from residents who are dissatisfied with the unemployment compensation claim filing process and the promptness of responses. I also discussed with Department of Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards cost-saving measures implemented by Northampton County officials, and asked Department of Environmental Protection Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell for an update on blackfly spraying. Recordings of those exchanges may be viewed on my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/RepHahn.

Preparing for the budget hearings also gave me time to examine some issues in greater detail and gain added insight. I often hear from constituents who think the answer to our financial woes should start with cutting welfare. I don’t disagree that we need to ensure the money designated for those in need does not fall victim to waste, fraud and abuse. But food stamps and WIC (Women, Infants and Children) cards do not encompass the entire welfare appropriation. Support for medical assistance, domestic violence and rape crisis centers is also included, as well as critical access hospitals.

We also hear from those who oppose supporting mass transit and believe we should not be subsidizing systems in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Failing to do so would also impact residents of the Lehigh Valley who rely on LANTA (Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority) buses to move around the area.

The hearings were the next step in the process of crafting a budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year, following Gov. Tom Wolf’s February budget address, which I am on record as calling a distinct and refreshing change from those of his first two years in office when broad-based taxes were his default way of solving our revenue problems. Choosing a more fiscally responsible path to prosperity is what taxpayers demand and deserve, and I applaud his change of heart.

We, as a General Assembly, now face the task of formulating a spending plan while dealing with a significant deficit. The budget hearings helped me formulate some opinions as to where cuts can and cannot be made (I refuse to believe broad-based taxes will solve our problems). A budget bill was unveiled last week and got the negotiating process started earlier than in recent years. I hope we can keep the momentum going and enact an on-time, fiscally responsible budget that funds the core functions of government while protecting Pennsylvania’s hard-working taxpayers.


Representative Marcia Hahn
138th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Scott Little
717.260.6137
slittle@pahousegop.com  
RepHahn.com / Facebook.com/RepHahn
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