In recent years, the General Assembly has faced significant state budget deficits brought on by slow economic growth coupled with growing financial obligations for pensions, health care and other state and federal mandates. Rather than responding with painful tax increases or draconian cuts to vital programs, lawmakers have turned more attention to trimming the cost of providing government services.
In 2011, the Senate created a new panel — the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee — to rein in the day-to-day cost of state government agencies, boards and commissions. It was an incredible honor to be appointed by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati last week to serve as Chairman of this committee for the 2015-16 legislative session. I am extremely anxious to play a leading role in efforts to ensure we get the most out of every dollar entrusted to us by taxpayers.
As I have traveled throughout northern Lancaster County both as a state representative and now as a state senator, one of the most common concerns I hear from local residents is the distressing cost of providing basic government services. Very few people seem to take issue with paying taxes if they know the money is being spent to educate our children, improve our infrastructure or help families who have legitimately fallen on hard times through no fault of their own. But they are justifiably furious when their tax dollars are lost to bloated bureaucracy and government largesse.
Originally chaired by fellow Lancaster County legislator Lloyd Smucker, the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee has taken concrete steps toward making government more cost-effective and providing greater efficiency in government services. Committee action helped pave the way for final legislative approval of proposals to consolidate several government entities, including a merger of the Pennsylvania Securities Commission under the Department of Banking that helped to save $2.6 million in taxpayer dollars in the first year alone.
Many issues the legislature will consider this year are expected to be contentious. However, there is bipartisan interest in ensuring tax dollars are put to good use in our communities and not lost to poor management in state government. It is my goal to work with members of both parties to shape a legislative agenda that focuses on streamlining government services and protecting taxpayers.
CONTACT: Zachary Peirson (717) 627-0036