HARRISBURG – Reps. Frank Ryan (R-Lebanon) and Seth Grove (R-York) held a Capitol news conference today to unveil an aggressive plan to put Pennsylvania on a sound financial course and prevent it from going into default, which they say is inevitable if nothing changes.
“A few years ago, our caucus sounded the alarm on the Commonwealth’s need to act to solve its pension crisis and overall financial situation or face certain default,” said Ryan. “Great progress has been made by our leadership team in the past five years, but decisions made decades ago have inevitably brought us to where there are no longer any easy options available to right the ship. Tough choices must be made now to avoid a financial catastrophe, which will occur when another recession hits. We have time, but only if we act now.”
“It’s no secret we need to downsize state government, restore commonsense in our budgeting and pay down state debt. The urgency for action grows each day,” said Grove. “The package of legislation we are presenting today would enable us to deliver programs and services to Pennsylvania residents in a more effective and efficient manner while helping to achieve our financial goals and protecting the interest of taxpayers. Status quo financial management will not lead the Commonwealth into prosperity but will only trap it in a path to obscurity.”
Grove and Ryan are members of the Commonsense Caucus, a group of Republican lawmakers credited with scrutinizing the annual state budget and identifying millions of dollars in needless or wasteful spending.
Ryan is sponsoring House Bill 1995
to create the Keystone Solvency Operating Study (SOS) Commission to analyze the Commonwealth’s financial situation and risk factors related to the unfunded obligations of municipalities, school districts, public pension plans and postemployment benefits of the Commonwealth to name a few.
The bipartisan commission would also determine lessons learned from the recent default in Puerto Rico and why Illinois and several other states are now facing the threat of insolvency. It would have six months to conduct its study and report its findings and recommendations to the governor and General Assembly.
Ryan, a certified public accountant, and Grove are sponsoring the Lean State Government Act to ensure state agencies are fulfilling their intended mission and doing so effectively and efficiently. House Bill 1053
would require all state agencies with a fiscal budget exceeding $100 million to undergo a performance audit by a qualified performance auditor contracted by the auditor general (AG). Following the audit, the agency would be required to implement processes to improve speed and quality and reduce waste and costs.
Ryan is also sponsoring House Bill 985
to require auditors employed by the AG to be properly qualified for the audits they are performing. The bill requires qualified forensic auditors and fraud auditors, hired after the bill’s effective date, to possess the proper certifications in order to conduct those audits. The bill also requires the AG to adopt policies to encourage current employees to become certified.
Grove is sponsoring House Bill 93
which is the first rewrite to the Commonwealth’s budget process since 1978. House Bill 93 of the SMART Act provides for priority-based budgeting, which is a merger of zero-based budgeting and performance-based budgeting. This new process would ensure the budget process will review the effectiveness of programs and ensure taxpayers are getting the best services at the lowest cost.
Eight other bills discussed today that are sponsored or co-sponsored by Ryan and Grove are included in the “reinventing government” package. House Bills 52
-58 would merge eight existing state agencies into four new ones – the Commonwealth Office of Management and Budget; the Department of Business, Tourism and Workforce Development; the Department of Local Government and Community Affairs; and the Department of Health and Human Services. They would also eliminate unnecessary boards and commissions, consolidate the management of the State Employees’ Retirement System and Public School Employees’ Retirement System – Pennsylvania’s public pension systems – and eliminate obvious areas of inefficiency and redundancy in state government.
The strategic plan for these mergers would require a 20% reduction in administrative costs, improved delivery of government services to all residents, the elimination of redundant programs and better use of state funding to cut costs to taxpayers.
“The changes being proposed, and the results required will not come easy, but doing nothing is simply not an option,” said Ryan.
Representative Frank Ryan
101st Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Donna Pinkham