Key Points from Senate Budget Hearings Wednesday, March 9

HARRISBURG – The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday held budget hearings with the Department of Health and Department of State on the governor’s proposed 2022-23 state budget.

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.

Department of Health

Many hospitals in urban and rural areas are in danger of closing under the financial strain imposed by two years of pandemic response. Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Pat Browne (R-16) explored the state of Pennsylvania’s public health systems with Acting Health Secretary Keara Klinepeter.

Other topics covered were success rates for COVID-19 vaccines and the consolidation of the medical marijuana industry in Pennsylvania and its impact on the supply and price of the medical cannabis. The acting secretary was also asked to detail steps taken to rectify the serious issues caused by the massive 2021 data breach involving a COVID contact tracing vendor.

Department of State

Senate State Government Committee Chair Dave Argall (R-29) explored several areas of election administration with Acting Secretary Leigh Chapman, including what guidance regarding ballot drop boxes will be in place prior to the upcoming primary election.

Other topics covered were the dramatic rise in department overtime costs since 2014 and the status of upgrading department websites related to elections, business registration and lobbyist reporting.

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

CONTACT: Matt Moyer mmoyer@pasen.gov