Key Points from Senate Budget Hearings Thursday, Feb. 24

HARRISBURG — The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday continued public hearings on the proposed 2022-23 state budget, taking testimony from officials with the departments of Transportation and Corrections.

Gov. Tom Wolf proposed a $45.7 billion budget that would increase spending by $4.5 billion. Based on projections, this will create a $1.3 billion deficit in the following fiscal year and produce a $13 billion deficit by FY 2026-27.

Thursday’s hearings:

Department of Transportation

Senate Transportation Committee Chair Wayne Langerholc (R-35) explored PennDOT’s plan to add tolls to nine interstate bridges through the Public-Private Partnership (P3) program. He urged further discussions on alternative means to fund bridge work and noted the way PennDOT wrote the bid requirements, only three companies were qualified to bid. Not one is a Pennsylvania company, and some have international ties.

Sen. Devlin Robinson (R-37), whose district includes a bridge targeted for tolling, sought details on how spans were chosen for tolling and sought assurance that revenue collected for each bridge would be used for that bridge. 

Department of Corrections and Board of Probation & Parole

Several committee members noted that in recent years the General Assembly enacted reforms to produce savings within the Department of Corrections.  Many of the operations of the department and the Board of Probation and Parole were merged to operate more efficiently.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lisa Baker (R-20) raised concerns about COVID-related vacancy rates among corrections officers and nurses and sought details on the plan to attract and retain staff. She also questioned officials about their spending of federal dollars and the need for a robust tracking system.

You can find livestreams of budget hearings, daily recaps and video from prior hearings at PASenateGOP.com.