What do bowling alleys, chandeliers, and six-person hot tubs have in common? They’ve all been purchased with state welfare funds. Yesterday Tim Costa, executive deputy secretary of the Department of Public Welfare (DPW), testified before the Senate Health and Welfare Committee on the fiscal situation in the Office of Developmental Programs.
Mr. Costa’s testimony included a list of extravagant purchases including: Futons, paving of parking lots, video cabinets, mulch, a patio, pools, pool fencing, carpeting, a six-person hot tub, chandelier, luxury cars, a bowling alley, driveway paving, and flea dipping for a therapeutic cat.
Visibly upset by the wasteful spending, Senator Pat Vance asked Mr. Costa how these expenditures were approved. Mr. Costa answered,
Why was it approved? I guess because there were not tight fiscal regulations. That suggests there were not fiscal regulations in place, period. That’s one example, and it’s pretty egregious, especially when you know there are people who need services and are not getting them. I assure you we will not be approving bowling alleys going forward.
This hearing focused on a single office in the massive DPW bureaucracy. Public Welfare spending is growing faster than Pennsylvania’s economy, and three times as fast as the rest of the state budget since FY 2002-03.
The state must rein in costs by shedding wasteful spending and realigning provider incentives to improve the quality of care. Failure to reform the system will result in either dramatic cuts in other state programs, or significantly higher taxes on Pennsylvanians.
Source: PA Office of the Budget, PA Department of Public Welfare, and US Bureau of Economic Analysis