HARRISBURG – The need to create jobs and keep young residents in Pennsylvania were among the topics covered in Tuesday’s Senate Appropriations Committee hearings on the budget requests for the Department of Community and Economic Development and Department of Corrections.
The hearings are part of the third and final week of Senate budget hearings. Gov. Josh Shapiro’s $45.8 billion plan seeks to boost state spending by more than $1.3 billion above the current year’s budget. Senate Republicans are advocating pro-growth policies and helping Pennsylvanians keep more of their hard-earned money as the surest way to meet budgetary challenges in the years ahead.
Department of Community and Economic Development
Gov. Shapiro is seeking a budget for the Department of Community and Economic Development of $191.4 million. Committee members sought assurances from Acting Secretary Rick Siger that this money would be spent efficiently.
- Questions were raised about how Pennsylvania can reverse some of its most troubling demographic trends. Workforce issues and the state’s tax structure were identified as some of the most pressing concerns.
- The department was encouraged to foster greater coordination between its various job training programs and existing programs in other state agencies to better support job seekers.
- The department was also urged to be a forceful advocate to break down barriers to investment and opportunity and help businesses grow and stay in Pennsylvania.
- Pennsylvania’s unique strength and strategic position should create more opportunities to compete for contracts related to the U.S. Department of Defense.
- The aviation industry has seen a positive impact from the Airport Land Development Zone Program created by lawmakers last year.
Department of Corrections/PA Parole Board
Pennsylvania’s recidivism rate and declining inmate population were among the topics the committee covered with Acting Corrections Secretary Laurel Harry.
- Recidivism has declined in recent years, creating opportunities to reduce long-term costs to taxpayers. The declining inmate population is at least partially attributed to the availability of vocational programs.
- The merger of the state’s probation and parole systems with the Department of Corrections – which was approved by lawmakers in 2021 – has eliminated duplicate work and reduced costs to taxpayers.
- There are currently 750 vacancies in the Department of Corrections, resulting in increased use of overtime for existing employees to meet the agency’s needs.
- The department was encouraged to remain vigilant for risks of human trafficking among inmates.
You can find the hearings schedule, livestreams, daily recaps and video from prior hearings at PASenateGOP.com.
CONTACT: Jason Thompson