Measure increases accountability, monitoring of budget, state spending
The Senate today approved legislation intended to fundamentally reform Pennsylvania’s budgeting process while monitoring spending and increasing accountability in state government, according to Senator Pat Browne (R-16).
Senator Browne amended House Bill 2497, the public pension reform bill, with language formally establishing an Independent Fiscal Office (IFO), a non-partisan, bi-cameral agency with expertise in financial matters. The IFO would develop state revenue estimates and have access to the same agency and department financial information as the Governor’s Budget Office, Senator Browne, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, noted.
“The preparation, consideration and approval of the state budget are the most important tasks of Legislature each year. The IFO will provide the General Assembly with information that we currently do not have available. This data and projections will enable the Legislature to consider economic trends and prioritize spending as part of the budgeting process,” Senator Browne said.
The IFO will be empowered with several specific tasks:
- Prepare annual revenue estimates.
- Provide an assessment by November 15 each year of the state’s fiscal condition to include a five-year projection.
- Develop performance measures for executive-level programs and departments.
- Provide an analysis of all tax and revenue proposals submitted by the Governor or the Office of the Budget.
- Study and analyze the existing sales and use tax law and make recommendations for change.
- Establish an Internet web site.
“One of the key duties of this office will be to develop a revenue estimate for the coming fiscal year. This would provide the Legislature with important information that we can use to prepare a fiscally responsible pending plan,” Senator Browne said.
In addition, the legislation will require the Governor and Budget Office to share information with the IFO. State agencies will be required to provide monthly expenditure data, including personnel information.
“This would be extremely helpful information during tough economic times such as we have experienced over the past few years. As we review the budget line-by-line, looking for areas to reduce spending, this data would be extremely helpful,” Senator Browne said.