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Senator Pat Browne


2016-17 Senate Appropriations Committee Budget Hearings

The Senate Appropriations Committee held its third and final week of public hearings on Governor Wolf’s proposed state budget for the 2016-17 Fiscal Year. The Appropriations Committee heard detailed reports from several cabinet secretaries and other officials over the two-day period of March 7, 2016 to March 8, 2016.

Here are some of the highlights and videos from the third week of budget hearings.

For a recap of the first and second weeks of budget hearings, click here: Budget Hearing Week 1, Budget Hearing Week 2.

Department of Human Services

Senator Browne asked Secretary of Human Services during Senate Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing what has been spent on programs aimed at helping to reduce waste, fraud and abuse and what savings have been realized through these programs.

Discussion during the hearing included:

  • Efforts to move disabled and senior citizens into community settings, as opposed to more expensive nursing home care.
  • The effectiveness of early intervention services.
  • Declines in Lottery Fund revenues and the impact on programs.
  • The interaction between the Department of Human Services and the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs.

Department of Revenue

During Senate Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing with Secretary of Revenue, Senator Browne asked the Secretary of Revenue about the Governor’s proposed tax on promotional play at PA casinos and the effects that tax may have on casino revenues.

Discussion during the hearing included:

  • Lottery machines in state liquor stores.
  • Efforts to improve Sales and Use Tax collection.
  • Overoptimistic natural gas extraction tax revenue estimates.
  • The Governor’s Executive Order on the minimum wage.

Department of Veterans Affairs & Military Preparedness

Senator Browne stressed the importance of providing a high level of service and maximizing limited resources to serve as many veterans as possible.

Discussion during the hearing included:

  • Security at state military installations.
  • Job opportunities for veterans after leaving military service.
  • Federal funding for the Department.
  • Home care for veterans.

Department of Education

Senator Browne asked the Secretary of Education about cost-savings and effectiveness measures undertaken by the Department of Education.

Senator Browne continued his conversation with Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera outlining some of the key issues facing funding for the Department of Education.

Discussion during the hearing included:

  • Spending for early childhood education.
  • The new Basic Education Funding Formula.
  • EITC Tax Credits for businesses.
  • Pennsylvania’s declining number of students, but increased education spending.

Liquor Control Board

Senator Browne voiced concerns to the Chairman of the Liquor Control Board that overall expense growth for the LCB is climbing higher than the revenue growth.

Discussion during the hearing included:

  • Modernization vs. privatization.
  • Profit margins for the overall system and for individual outlets.
  • Complement of employees and associated pension costs.
  • Competitiveness with neighboring states.

Department of Health

Senator Browne discussed the strategy of retasking funds more effectively to provide services through the Department of Health.

Discussion during the hearing included:

  • Inspections of hospice services.
  • Screenings for various cancers.
  • Efforts to combat Lyme disease.
  • Recruitment and retention of primary care physicians.

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FAX: 610-366-2329
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3256 Levans Road
Coplay, PA 18037
FAX: 610-769-5568
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