Wagner: No Rubber Stamp for Waste

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I am writing in response to Carl Huber’s letter to the editor ("Scott Wagner playing Scrooge this holiday," Nov. 28).

Unfortunately, the call center employees have become political hostages of Gov. Wolf – so don’t blame me or my senate colleagues.

I was elected as a Pennsylvania state senator to do a job. I am expected to do my job. I will not be a rubber stamp for waste, fraud and abuse in Harrisburg.

There is an alarming amount of taxpayer money being wasted in Harrisburg. I see it first-hand every day. This project was fed approximately $240 million over the last four years with zero accountability. Now the senate is being pressured into throwing another $57.5 million down a black hole without any questions being asked.

In 2006, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania signed a $106.9 million contract with IBM to be completed in 2009.

IBM’s contract was to give the state a new computer system to track employee wages, employer taxes, handle unemployment claims, appeals, and payments.
In July of 2013, the state terminated the contract with IBM because it was $60 million over budget. The $60 million was in addition to the $106.9 million initial contract, and it was 42 months late. What happened with this contract? Who was held accountable for the cancelled IBM contract?

Later in 2013, the Legislature voted to allocate $60 million per year for four years, and that ends at the end of this year. This was for the same project that was contracted with IBM and then cancelled.

So let’s recap for taxpayers – $106 million plus another $60 million for IBM. Add the last four years of $60 million per year for a total of $240 million – all for a grand total of more than $400 million in taxpayer money.

Everywhere I go throughout the state, taxpayers complain to me about the pension crisis, school property taxes, and many other hot button issues such as lack of accountability in Harrisburg. If we don’t stop the waste and abuse of taxpayer money, we will never fix other problems in Pennsylvania.
Without getting into too much detail, there is another project that has wasted almost $1 billion of taxpayer money over the last 10 years, and that is the statewide radio system. Guess what – the statewide radio system doesn’t work!

Gov. Wolf recently terminated the 10-year failed radio contract and re-signed with another company in the last 90 days for another stab at the statewide radio project.

That’s another almost $1 billion wasted. Again, I ask – who is being held accountable?

I have a suggestion for the affected employees at the call centers: Why don’t the union officials who represent you and collect dues from the affected employees at the state call centers that Gov. Wolf is threatening to close look into taking legal action to stop the layoffs and force Gov. Wolf to find funding to keep these employees from being laid off?

Instead of criticizing me or my colleagues in the senate, the unions who represent these affected workers and collect dues from these same workers should step up and fight for them.

Is the relationship between these unions and Gov. Wolf too cozy for them to fight for their members?

To Carl Huber: You are obviously a Democrat by your Republican comment in your letter. As an elected Pennsylvania state senator, I represent Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.

Maybe waste and abuse of taxpayer money in Harrisburg is not an issue for you – but I can assure you a large majority of the taxpayers in Pennsylvania are fed up with Harrisburg.

State Sen. Scott Wagner serves Pennsylvania’s 28th Senatorial District.