Pennsylvania State Legislature
A Berks County lawmaker says she’s very encouraged that a state Senate
committee plans to meet next week to consider legislation that would reduce the
size of Pennsylvania’s General Assembly.
Judy Schwank of Berks County strongly supports legislation that would reduce the
size of the state Senate and House of Representatives.
Senate State Government Committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, June 3, to
consider two bills that would reduce the size of the state legislature.
Bill 1234, which passed the House in December on a vote of 148-50, would reduce
the House by 50 members from 203 to 153. The measure does not address reducing the size of the Senate.
Senate sponsored bill calls for reducing the House to 121 members and the
Senate to 30 members. However, an
amendment is apparently in the works that would reduce the Senate from 50 to 45
members but leave the House at 121.
Schwank says the time for talk is over. She wants to see the committee and the full Senate take action on
reducing the cost and size of the General Assembly. The Berks County Democrat introduced her own
legislation (Senate Bill 336) early last year that would cut the Senate by 10
members and the House by 82. And,
although the measure has 14 co-sponsors including Republicans, the GOP
controlled Senate has decided to take up a bill sponsored by a Beaver County
Schwank also talks about the difficulty facing the General Assembly over the
next month trying to hammer out a balanced state budget. Right now, the state’s projected deficit for
this year totals more than $500 million, and upwards of $1.2 billion for the
fiscal year 2014-15.
Schwank says her top priorities include adequately funding public education and
social programs at the county level. She
says in order to do that the state needs additional revenue and should enact a
severance or extraction tax on the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry
new state budget must be in place by June 30th.