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Cutting wasteful spending…a common theme at Dept. of Education budget hearing
During this morning’s Senate Appropriations Committee hearing with the Department of Education, I stressed the importance of making sure that every tax dollar is carefully spent.
With a limited amount of taxpayer dollars available for the education of our children, we need to spend less on unnecessary bureaucracy.
As Chairman of the Senate Majority Policy Committee, my colleagues and I are working on a number of initiatives to reduce wasteful spending. During the hearing, I asked Secretary Rivera for his feedback on these ideas which included school district health care consolidation, limiting….or eliminating the ever-so-burdensome school property taxes which are almost triple the rate of inflation, and the department’s use of office space.
The Legislative Budget & Finance Committee has stated that a $200 million savings can occur each year by merging school district health care plans. Secretary Rivera agreed to work with me to turn this idea into a reality.
Last week, the Pittsburgh Tribune reported that school superintendents are retiring in unprecedented numbers. I asked the Secretary if this is our window of opportunity to begin to share administrative positions, superintendents, and business managers with other school districts. Secretary Rivera agreed to work with me on this issue, as well.
When I suggested a public referendum or a unanimous vote of the school board in order to increase school property taxes, the Secretary did not support the concept. He also did not support the idea of requiring a unanimous vote of the school board in order to create any new administrative position.
Despite the Secretary’s position on these last three concepts, my staff and I will continue to determine if we can turn these ideas into cost-saving realities.
My final question to the Secretary asked if the department has cut the size of its offices in Harrisburg due to a 44% reduction in its staff over the last 20 years. I have asked other cabinet leaders the same question during our budget hearings in the last two weeks.
You can watch our full discussion here.
Stay tuned as we push these cost-savings ideas forward. As always, don’t hesitate to contact me with your ideas on improving state government. Sometimes, the solution may be to provide additional tax dollars for an important goal. As I have stressed during this year’s budget hearings, however, many of the residents of the district which I represent would prefer better utilizing the tax dollars which they already send to the capitol.