Political Games

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Last Wednesday the PA State Senate had one session day – Senate Leadership for the next legislature session was elected and there were several bills that were considered. One bill that caught my attention was House Bill 2375 which would have amended the Unemployment Compensation Law to provide up to $57.5 million in funding to the Service and Infrastructure Improvement Fund (SIIF) in calendar year 2017.

The bill clarified that money may be used for technological upgrades to the delivery system for unemployment compensation benefits. A lively discussion took place in the Senate Republican Caucus at which point I learned that four years ago the legislature approved $60 million dollars per year for four years to upgrade the delivery system (computer hardware and software).

Wait a minute – the legislature authorized $60 million a year for four years – the four year period ends on December 31, 2016. Over four years the Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) was given $240 million dollars and now they want another $57.5 million dollars? I have had enough of zero accountability in Harrisburg – why wasn’t the project completed on time and why was the Senate expected to vote to give L&I another $57.5 million at the eleventh hour?

Later on Wednesday afternoon, after the Senate did not vote to give L&I the additional $57.5 million dollars, Governor Wolf issued a press release that he was angered by the Senate’s failure to vote and approve this funding and that call centers may close. Over the next two days, Thursday and Friday, Governor Wolf stated that call centers will close around the state because of the funding issue. Not a surprise to me, Governor Wolf has selected to close call centers that are all in Republican Senate Districts.

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In the private sector people would lose their jobs if $240 million dollars was spent to upgrade a system and then four years later it was still not completed. A good place to start would be to fire the Secretary of Labor and Industry and the managers who failed to deliver the final product. And who does the Secretary of Labor and Industry report to? Governor Wolf.

Why aren’t people being held accountable in Harrisburg?

In 2018, taxpayers of Pennsylvania get to hold Governor Wolf accountable and elect him out of office.

This is another great example of abuse of taxpayer funds, lack of leadership from Governor Wolf and his unwillingness to hold people accountable – I have had enough.

I have been in Harrisburg since April of 2014 and I have witnessed first-hand the financial games being played by Governor Wolf and his Administration. Trust me when I tell you this – Governor Wolf and his Budget Secretary know where to find money to continue to fund the call centers.

Governor Wolf did not have a problem finding money this past August to give almost 30,000 state employees wage increases of almost twelve percent over a twenty-seven month period – based on my calculation these wage increases total over $150 Million Dollars and were not part of the 2016-17 budget – I serve on the Senate Appropriations Committee and we were not informed of these increased wage costs.

I was elected by voters in the 28th Senate District to do my job – the pension crisis has not been solved, school property taxes continue to increase, roads and bridges are crumbling, and we have the highest state gas tax in the nation – it is time we hold Harrisburg accountable which starts in the Governor’s office.

Stay tuned and watch how Governor Wolf grandstands and turns this issue into a political issue resulting in closing call centers and using state employees as hostages