|Posted:||January 4, 2017 01:06 PM|
|From:||Representative Jason Ortitay|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Improving Fiscal Oversight of Lapsed Funds|
|After Governor Wolf vetoed the entire General Appropriations Bill for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, the administration funded the priorities of Harrisburg through Act 146 Waivers. Under Act 146, the executive branch, through the budget office, may waive left over funds from prior fiscal years. Historically, these funds have been used to maintain the state’s cash flow during the fiscal year. However, these waivers during the budget impasse acted as a supplemental budget to fund the priorities of Harrisburg. From July 1st, 2015 until October 31st, the administration spent approximately $2.7 billion in lapsed state funds which exceed the state average by $400 million.
These waivers were spent without any oversight or accountability from the General Assembly which resulted in millions wasted during the impasse. An example of the administration’s questionable spending comes from a statewide study of domesticated animals that cost taxpayers $144,000. Another questionable waiver was for $19 million to implement Governor Wolf’s tax plan despite the fact it was rejected by the legislature. These examples are troubling as the administration can currently lapse any funds remaining from prior fiscal years as long as the Budget Secretary approves the waiver and notifies House and Senate Appropriation Committees.
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation to reform this process and ensure the General Assembly has greater oversight over lapsed funds. Under the proposed reform any waiver approved by the Budget Secretary must also be approved by a majority vote of both appropriation committees. This change allows for the House and Senate to exercise their right to oversee state appropriations and ensure taxpayer funds are well spent.
Please join me in sponsoring this important legislation.
Introduced as HB221