HARRISBURG (February 7, 2017) – While pleased to hear a budget proposal that doesn’t include broad-based tax increases, Senator John H. Eichelberger, Jr, (R-Blair) criticized the governor’s plan for lacking realistic solutions to fix the state’s gaping financial hole.
“The governor didn’t address a lot of major concerns, such as long-term spending. Most glaringly, he completely ignored the most significant issue causing our annual billion-dollar deficits – the public pension crisis,” said Senator Eichelberger. “He did talk about finding ways within the government to save money, but he offered few details. We must identify specific areas where we can restructure operations and prioritize efficiency.”
Senator Eichelberger said cost-saving changes have to be based on performance and not politics. He pointed to the governor’s decision in December to furlough hundreds of Unemployment Compensation Call Center employees, including the state’s most efficient facility in Altoona, without any plans on how to avoid the serious fallout that followed.
As Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Senator Eichelberger was especially bothered by the spending increase proposed in the budget when there’s a lot of evidence to show that isn’t working.
“Just doing the same old, same old and pouring more money into failing schools is not a good idea. We have schools that are doing a lot of good things, we should emulate that,” said Senator Eichelberger. “We should be looking at the best practices, and then we should be doing away with a lot of the bad programs we have and looking at some of the really poor performing schools and looking at moving those kids to charters and other things to give them an opportunity to get ahead. Keeping them in bad programs and in bad schools is not helping anybody in the system.”
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Eichelberger will be an active participant in the upcoming budget hearings. He promises to scrutinize the proposal for additional ways to save taxpayers’ money and demand during testimony from state department heads that they explain their past spending as well as justify the funding they have requested.
“I think this will be more of a legislative-driven budget this year. We have to take the lead, vastly improve government programs, and create a responsible and sustainable budget for all Pennsylvanians.”
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