Republicans eye cuts to close Pennsylvania budget gap

    A group of House Republicans is pushing a package of cost-savings measures they say could net the state between $557 million and $1.5 billion.

    A group of House Republicans is pushing a package of cost-savings measures they say could net the state between $557 million and $1.5 billion.

    Pennsylvania’s budget deficit has ballooned past a billion dollars.

    The House Republicans say their suggestions could help fill a significant chunk of that gap.

    Minority Leader and Jefferson County Republican Sam Smith suggests reducing the state’s vehicle fleet by a third, and having state employees rent cars for trips of more than a hundred miles.

    “It’s really a just in time delivery,” says Smith, “so you’re not sitting on this fleet of cars that the state owns that are only maybe being utilized two or three days a week. You’re only paying for the car the day you’re using it.”

    The Republicans say that would save the state $36 million a year.

    Another suggestion is to pay for more state purchases with debit cards, rather than with checks.

    Lancaster Representative John Bear says Pennsylvania could save between $62 and $219 million a year by paying most of its bills with electronic purchase cards, rather than cutting checks.

    When the state pays bills, says Bear, “$141 million of that $22 billion is via p-card. So we’re just saying to expand that. West Virginia does 50 percent of all their purchases with p-card. So they’re a model for that.”

    Some of those savings would come from rebates offered by card companies.

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