A group of three state lawmakers continued their campaign Monday for a package of bills they say will reinvent Pennsylvania government.
State Rep. Matt Dowling hosted a news conference with Reps. Seth Grove and Justin Walsh to talk about their bills, which are part of a seven-bill package presented by House Republicans.
“These bills share our vision for how we can improve and establish best practices, better government, economic prosperity and stronger and healthier communities for taxpayers,” Dowling said.
The bills would reduce administrative costs by 20 percent and improve delivery of services, the lawmakers said.
Dowling is sponsoring House Bill 54, which merges several state departments to form the Department of Local Government and Community Affairs. Pennsylvania has 5,000 local governments, the most of any state except Illinois, and the newly-formed department is to provide local governments one place to go for managing elections and other local issues. A cabinet position, the Department of the Commonwealth, would oversee the department and its several divisions.
Grove is sponsoring House Bill 52 which merges the Budget Office, the Department of General Services, the Office of Administration and the Governor’s Office of Policy and Planning into the newly created Office of Management and Budget. The office would be supervised by the director of the Office of Management and Budget, who would take on the duties of three previous administrators – the Secretary of the Budget, Secretary of General Services and Secretary of Administration.
“This agency will oversee and supervise all aspects of the commonwealth’s governance including budget preparation, oversee state expenditures along with handling all procurements, HR and IT,” Grove said previously. “This model is used by the federal government and 29 states to improve the coordination and management of government.”
Walsh is sponsoring House Bill 58, which he says will help employers who are struggling to find staff.
“Right now, our workforce development programs are fragmented across four different agencies, the Department of Labor and Industry, the Department of Health, the Department of Education and the Department of Community and Economic Development,” Walsh said. “What my bill would do is take all of the programs and put them under one umbrella, which is the DCED.”
When asked why similar packages have not passed before, Dowling said the lawmakers are following the leadership of Gov. Tom Wolf, who spearheaded the consolidated the merger of the state’s health department and its department of human services.
“We’ve been very excited by the governor's movement in this direction,” Dowling said. “That is one of the reasons why we got together to formulate this package that would look at consolidation, because I do believe that the governor is willing to work with us as he has made proposals himself.
The seven-bill package is currently in the House State Government Committee.