As expected, annual ‘inquisition’ of Pa. budget hearings begins

    Two weeks after Gov. Tom Corbett unveiled his $28.4 billion budget proposal, Pennsylvania lawmakers are settling in for the grilling session known as budget hearings.

    Three weeks of public hearings officially began Tuesday with state Sen. John Wozniak, D-Cambria, likening the process to an “annual inquisition.”

    The meetings place agency secretaries before the appropriations committees of the House and Senate to answer questions about their budgets.

    Hughes targets Medicaid decision

    Sen. Vincent Hughes, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, is blasting the Corbett administration for opting against the authorized expansion of Medicaid.

    Hughes, who says he asked the administration in November to share the data on which it was basing its decision, said Tuesday he is still waiting for that information.

    “It was a very disappointing first start, consistent with the governor’s budget address, very difficult first day,” said Hughes of Philadelphia.

    Agency heads will also be expected to hold court on other issues that crop up along the way.

    The recent rejection of the administration’s contract to privatize the lottery is likely to come up in hearings with the state Attorney General, Kathleen Kane, who announced the rejection, as well as the Department of Revenue, which oversees the lottery.

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