HARRISBURG – Public review of the proposed 2023-24 state budget continued Thursday with Senate Appropriations Committee hearings on the budget requests for the Department of Health and Department of Transportation.
The hearings are part of the third and final week of Senate budget hearings. Gov. Josh Shapiro’s $45.8 billion plan seeks to boost state spending by more than $1.3 billion above the current year’s budget.
Department of Health
Access to health care across Pennsylvania, COVID-19 data sharing, and more were discussed with Acting Health Secretary Dr. Debra Bogen.
Concerns were raised regarding health care access, particularly in rural areas that are currently underserved.
Permitting delays at the state and local levels have chased away jobs and investment to other states, including the loss of a $1.5 billion U.S. Steel project in 2021.
The department’s refusal under the Wolf Administration to share data pertaining to deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic was strongly criticized. The acting secretary pledged to make more information available to the General Assembly for oversight purposes.
The department was encouraged to reexamine how money is allocated to fight Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.
Support for EMS departments and addressing PFAS contamination were other topics of discussion.
Department of Transportation
The lingering costs of the previous administration’s disastrous bridge tolling plan and the effect of electric vehicles on transportation funding were among the topics discussed with Department of Transportation Acting Secretary Michael Carroll.
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Poor decisions made by the Wolf Administration saddled taxpayers with billions in inflated costs for maintenance of Pennsylvania bridges. The acting secretary agreed to reconsider the prior administration’s decision.
The department was encouraged to support commonsense standards to exclude counties from emissions testing when they meet air quality goals.
The acting secretary offered an update on PennDOT’s implementation of REAL ID.
The department was questioned about its position on the potential use of radar by municipal police.
You can find the hearings schedule, livestreams, daily recaps and video from prior hearings at PASenateGOP.com.
CONTACT: Jason Thompson