Will the PA “Cost Cutting Commission” Cut Costs?

The Pennsylvania Senate’s new Cost Study Commission met for the first time on Friday, discussing the cost of the state fleet – which currently maintains 16,000 vehicles, half of them passenger cars. Walter Baran, Secretary of General Services under former Gov. Thornburgh, suggested leasing cars instead of maintaining the fleet could save $6 million year.

Sen. Daylin Leach questioned this, suggesting it is cheaper to buy a car than pay for mileage reimbursements for travel. This may be true for lawmakers – who put on a lot of miles on driving from their districts to Harrisburg and whose reimbursement aren’t subject to approval from their supervisor – but not for the vast majority of state workers. It also suggests that perhaps that taxpayers pay too much for mileage reimbursements.

Overall, the hearing gives little optimism that the committee will identify serious cost-containing measures. Baran noted that when the Thornburgh administration looked for cost-savings measure, they ignored anything that required legislative approval – which, safe to say, is a lot. And Sen. Leach suggested that the Cost Study Commission, not just look at cutting costs, but also at raising taxes.

Residents can sen tips on ways to cut spending to the commission by email: [email protected].

For some serious ideas for cutting state spending, check out our report on waste and spending reforms in the Pennsylvania budget, Government on a Diet.