Original Air Date: 8 p.m. Jan. 23, 2017
Rocco Pugliese, president of Pugliese Associates, recently was on PCN’s “On the Issues” with Francine Schertzer, vice president of programming for PCN TV, to discuss the Legislative Agenda for the 2017-18 session of the General Assembly.
A difficult budget year
The key takeaway from the show was that Pennsylvania is undergoing a belt-tightening now that Republicans have firmer control of the House and Senate. Gov. Wolf, a Democrat, is being pro-active in attempting to make cuts and has vowed not to offer any broad-based tax increases when he unveils his budget on Feb. 7.
However, Pennsylvania’s revenue estimates fell far short of expectations, and has put the Commonwealth $367 million in the red. Rocco Pugliese suggested this will likely result in the consolidation of offices–and perhaps even agencies–and a reduction in manpower to effectuate the cuts.
Another major issue facing the Commonwealth is pension reform. According to Rocco, Pennsylvania risks lagging behind other states if lawmakers don’t soon address the state’s long-term unfunded pension liability. The trouble is that solutions are not simple. Even legislators in the same party disagree about the proper approach, and that goes without taking into consideration the opinions of lawmakers from the opposing party in similar debate.
“It is a ticking time bomb,” Rocco said. “You cannot continue to kick the can down the road and expect things to change … Unfortunately, we’re going to have to make changes to how we operate.”
School funding, gaming law, unemployment call centers, opioid addiction, paycheck protection and more were all part of the discussion, so watch the interview below to dig into the topics and learn more about what to expect this legislative session.