HARRISBURG — The Senate Appropriations Committee continued public hearings on the proposed 2022-23 state budget, taking testimony from the Attorney General and officials with the Department of Community and Economic Development.
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.
Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-28) expressed her deep concerns with the Commonwealth’s cyber security infrastructure. She made clear the importance of improving cyber security for both public and private entities in the state to prevent exposure of citizens’ personal information in the event of a data breach. Her comments come in light of the Insight Global data breach in 2021, which was contracted by the Department of Health to provide COVID-19 contact tracing. The incident exposed tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians’ personal information to hackers.
Sen. Bob Mensch (R-24) asked Attorney General Shapiro about the Safe2Say program and discussed that it has had real results in preventing school violence and in identifying mental health needs. Safe2Say was created in 2018 through legislation sponsored by Sens. Pat Browne (R-16) and Scott Martin (R-13) to be an anonymous threat reporting system to improve school safety. The program is overseen by the Attorney General’s office and has received tens of thousands of reports. These reports not only help to save lives and prevent dangerous situations, but also provide invaluable and never-before collected data on the mental health crisis students are facing.
The need for City Revitalization and Improvement Zones to help drive economic development in third class cities like Erie was among the topics discussed with Acting Secretary Neil Weaver, along with redeveloping decommissioned power plants and the status of carbon capture utilization and storage initiatives.
Sen. Devlin Robinson (R-37) asked about the $18 million increase in the governor’s proposed budget for the Ben Franklin Development Authority and how the increased funding would be used. Sen. John Yudichak (I-14) noted that the current Corporate Net Income Tax rate has prevented many businesses from relocating and investing in the Commonwealth.
You can find livestreams of budget hearings, daily recaps and video from prior hearings at PASenateGOP.com.
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