Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) and Democratic Appropriations Committee Chair Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) have established a subcommittee structure within the Senate Appropriations Committee to hold more in depth hearings on state agency spending and budget requests.
The first of the Subcommittee hearings was held Monday with the Department of Environmental Protection.
“It is impossible during the three weeks of Senate Appropriations Committee budget hearings to fully delve into individual line items and programs of each department and agency in the Commonwealth,” Sen. Browne said. “The purpose of these subcommittees is to provide that increased focus and specialization in subject areas of spending priority and to advance greater integration of the General Assembly in all stages of the budget process.”
Subcommittee meetings will be held every Monday of session weeks from 10 a.m. to noon in Room 8E-B East Wing. Each subcommittee will be charged with:
— Performing increased administrative and program area analysis.
— Developing initiatives to promote efficiencies in program administration and delivery.
— Developing and analyzing Unified Program Area Budget Statements.
“The subcommittees will give members an opportunity to drill down and examine particular line items and categories to help develop better policies that serve all citizens of Pennsylvania,” Sen. Hughes said. “The members of the subcommittees will be able to undertake a more thorough review to gain a greater understanding of specific spending initiatives.
“With Pennsylvania facing stiff fiscal challenges, it is important to offer members a new way to analyze how policy choices and financial realities impact budget decision-making.”
The subcommittees will have the opportunity to study specific line items within each department’s budgets and make recommendations to the full Appropriations Committee regarding ways to improve operations and efficiency.
Each subcommittee will examine the programs, operations and efficiency measures of a particular component of state spending.
There will be four subcommittees with specific department focuses, each with a Majority Chair and Minority Chair:
— Public Safety and Criminal Justice: Majority Chair: Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), Minority Chair: Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery);
— Education, Workforce and Community & Economic Development: Majority Chair: Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster), Minority Chair: Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna);
— Health and Human Services: Majority Chair: Sen. Pat Vance (R-Cumberland), Minority Chair: Sen. Sean Wiley (D-Erie); and
— Infrastructure, Environment and Government Operation: Majority Chair: Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair), Minority Chair: Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny).
“Our current fiscal challenges require a greater emphasis on administrative and program spending and performance outcomes to ensure fiscal accountability to Pennsylvania citizens,” Sen. Browne said. “These subcommittees will allow members of the Senate Appropriations Committee to have more time to ask department heads and staff specific questions regarding spending and program performance.”Video of the Subcommittee budget hearings will be available on the Senate Appropriations Committee webpage.