Transparency Bill Awaits Governor’s Signature

Last month, Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled his “Government that Works” plan to reform contracting practices and increase transparency in government. Now, the state Legislature has given Wolf a chance to back up his rhetoric with action.

Today, the Senate passed Senate Bill 644, which would empower the Independent Fiscal Office to put a price tag on government union contracts before their ratification. The bill now awaits the governor’s signature.

“We congratulate SB 644 sponsor Sen. Mike Folmer for championing this vital transparency reform,” commented Matthew Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation. “Governor Wolf now has the opportunity to walk the walk on government transparency and accountability reforms.”

Wolf is negotiating contracts worth a combined $3.6 billion with 18 government unions, several of which donated millions of dollars to his election campaign. These contracts cover salary and benefits for state workers as well as special union privileges like release time and automatic payroll deduction for campaign contributions.

“If the governor is serious about ending conflicts of interest and fostering ‘government that works,’ he’ll sign this bill and shine light on contract costs,” Brouillette said.

Last year, taxpayers learned about $23 million in additional costs in a one-year contract with AFSCME only after the contract was finalized. Since 2000, average government worker benefit costs tripled from $12,732 to nearly $39,000. Total compensation per employee reached an average of nearly $93,000 in 2014-15.

If you would like to see how your senator voted on contract transparency, you can view the roll call here.