A week after Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell rolled out his budget proposal for fiscal 2010-11, the legislature began hearings on the $29 billion spending plan. The Senate Appropriations Committee started the hearing process today and over the course of the next several weeks state cabinet secretaries will come before the panel, answer questions from the lawmakers and defend the budget requests of their respective agencies.
Senator Mike Stack, the Democratic vice chairman of the committee, says the purpose is to give the panel a much more specific view of the budget picture with each department underlining what they do, how much they spend, how many employees they have, and what cuts have been made during the economic downturn....
"Oftentimes there are areas that members had no idea what kind of spending existed. Some of the bigger departments you think spend the most money but some with less employees actually spend more. So these things come out."
Stack believes that passing the current spending plan 101 days after the deadline has increased the interest of state residents in the budget process, and they will ask more questions and make more suggestions to their legislators.