Skip to Content

PENNSYLVANIA

Pennsylvania

State Recovery Act Website: http://recovery.pa.gov

Pennsylvania's state Recovery Act website scored 50 out of 100 possible points (ranking 6th) on Good Jobs First's 51-state study of state stimulus websites entitled Show Us the Stimulus. The state earned a higher than average score by mapping and describing ARRA-funded projects and disclosing their cost and to whom contracts were awarded. The state also summarizes county allocations through a map.  Contractor information: here (drill down through the map).

Pennsylvania scored fewer points-35 out of 100 (ranking a tied 29th)-on its disclosure of information specifically about highway projects funded by the Recovery Act.  Details about the state's ARRA highway projects are accessible though the main Recovery Act page.  Contractor information: here.

For detailed scoring information, see the Pennsylvania appendix of Show Us the Stimulus.

Coordination & Oversight

The Pennsylvania Stimulus Oversight Commission is led by Gov. Rendell with Ronald J. Naples as the Chairman of the Governor's Working Group for Stimulus Accountability (Chief Accountability Officer) and General Services Secretary James Creedon as the Chief Implementation Officer. Naples is in charge of reporting on how the state uses ARRA monies and making sure that funds are spent in accordance with ARRA requirements. It is Creedon's job to streamline the contracting process for stimulus related projects (specifically transportation projects) and to make sure stimulus funds are spent smartly and quickly.

Other Oversight Commission members include:

  • Gene Barr, Vice President, Government and Public Affairs, PA Chamber of Business and Industry
  • Tony Ross, President and Chief Executive Officer, United Way of Pennsylvania
  • Donald C. Siegel, International Vice President, District 3, IBEW, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO
  • Representative Jennifer Mann, Caucus Secretary, Democratic Caucus, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
  • Representative Brian Ellis, Republican Caucus
  • Senator Robert J. Mellow, Leader, Democratic Caucus, Senate of Pennsylvania
  • Senator Michael Waugh, Caucus Chair, Republican Caucus
  • Former Congressman Phil English, Republican Representative, U.S. Congressional Delegation
  • Paul E. Kanjorski, U.S. House of Representatives, Democratic Representative
  • J. Terry Kostoff, U.S. Senator Robert Casey
  • Charles Battaglia, U.S. Senator Arlen Specter

In late April, Naples appointed Eileen Healy McNulty, the state's Gaming Board Chief Financial Officer, to be the deputy accountability officer. She will help the oversight commission to monitor, advise and communicate how the stimulus money is spent.

Policy Debates

The Government Accountability Office is monitoring how Pennsylvania and 15 other states and DC are managing the stimulus money. The GAO's first report suggested that Pennsylvania may need to hire more staff to conduct oversight activities.

In an April 8 letter to Phillip Herr, GAO director of physical infrastructure issues, Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner questioned the state's ability to oversee the use of stimulus funds: "We are extremely concerned about the potential for a lack of statewide government transparency and accountability in the use of these vitally important funds." Gov. Rendell's office took strong exception to the charge.

With a self-imposed hiring freeze and a historic budget shortfall, the governor is being criticized for hiring Naples as the state's stimulus czar, especially with a $120,000 salary that is to be paid from stimulus funds.

State Senator Mike Brubaker (R) has said that Gov. Rendell's bipartisan stimulus oversight group does not go far enough to promote accountability. Brubaker proposed Senate Bill 6 which would create an oversight group with nine members (four from Rendell's cabinet, four appointees from the legislative caucuses and an appointee of the governor) who would meet twice a month for one year. This group, according to Brubaker, "would monitor how the $10 billion is spent and make recommendation on how to create jobs and eliminate fraud and waste." Senate Bill 6 was sent to full Senate for consideration with an amendment to add two citizen representatives to the oversight group, but stalled in committee in June.

Under House Bill 991, authored by Rep. Jim Christiana, a nine-member Stimulus Oversight Council would be created to analyze and report to the General Assembly on how ARRA funds are used and distributed. House Bill 992, authored by Reps. Mike Reese and Tim Kreiger, would require all state agencies to report to the General Assembly on how they intend to spend the federal funds and what the impact of the funds will be before stimulus monies are distributed by the legislature. The Republicans face an uphill battle since the House is controlled by Democrats by a 5 vote margin. As of late August no actions had been taken on these bills.

Pennsylvanian legislators delayed the introduction unemployment insurance modernization legislation until late July, despite the fact the state expects to borrow $1 billion by year's end to keep the fund solvent.  Gov. Rendell supported accepting the UI funds, but faced opposition from the Republican-controlled state senate.  A compromise was reached when the senate introduced a temporary rule change for UI that will only be triggered while there are federal funds to pay for the extended benefits.  Under the federal stimulus law the state is eligible for when the total unemployment rate exceeds 8 percent. With the change most workers in the state will be eligible for up to a total of 79 weeks of unemployment benefits, as long as federal money is available.

Pennsylvania was among the last states to submit its final application for $1.9 million in state fiscal stabilization funds for which it is eligible.  As of June 30, 2009, Pennsylvania had not yet received its initial allocation of $1.3 billion of its total $1.9 billion allocation for SFSF. The Governor submitted a preliminary application to Education for initial funding on April 24, 2009, and submitted a final application on June 26, 2009. Pennsylvania will file an amended application thereafter, if necessary, based on the education provisions of the final fiscal year 2009-10 budget. According to state officials, the Governor’s budget proposes to use the SFSF funds to increase education spending for school districts, whereas the Pennsylvania Senate has passed a bill to use the SFSF funds to hold education funding level. Local school districts will be uncertain about the SFSF funding until Pennsylvania adopts its budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2009.

Pennsylvania's weatherization funds have been available since April, but the state has failed to spend any of the money due to the state budget impasse and political wrangling in the capital. Most states have begun training workers and helping the community agencies that will do weatherization augment their staff and equipment. Forty-two states have been rewarded with a second round of stimulus funding that will allow them to start actual construction work.

Last updated on: 15 October, 2009

Quick Facts

Population:
12,448,279

Median Household Income:
$48,576

Unemployment Rate:
8.6%

Poverty Rate:
11.6%

Estimated Recovery Act Funding:
$9.6 billion

Resources

The Regional Equity Monitoring Project hosts a state Economic Recovery Resource page; available here.

U.S. Senator Bob Casey has published a report titled A Guide to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in Pennsylvania, last updated on March 24th, 2009.

Find a State