Wolf says money-saving budget will improve Pa. services

 Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and local officials discuss funding for senior services at the Wilson Park Senior Center in South Philadelphia. (Dave Davies/WHYY)

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and local officials discuss funding for senior services at the Wilson Park Senior Center in South Philadelphia. (Dave Davies/WHYY)

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced some proposed funding for senior centers in South Philadelphia Wednesday, a visit that comes as he travels the state selling his budget plan.

He has proposed that $2 million in state Lottery funds be shared by 38 senior centers across the commonwealth — the same figure he proposed in his budget plan last year.

What’s new is that now the state is facing an even bigger deficit, and Wolf is proposing to combine four state agencies into one.

The departments of Health, Drug and Alcohol Programs, and Aging would be merged with the Department of Human Services.

It’s a move Wolf insists is motivated not by saving money but by providing better, more coordinated services for Pennsylvanians.

“When someone calls in with a question for state government, they don’t want to hear that they’re in the wrong department,” Wolf said. “They don’t want to hear they have to go [to another] silo for this particular problem. I’m trying to make, and I think we’re all trying to design, a government that actually works for the people who pay for it.”

Consolidating the four departments is expected to eliminate about 500 jobs through attrition and retirement, and save more than $50 million.

Republican leaders in the Legislature are generally supportive of those kinds of proposals. They’ll be asking tougher questions about Wolf’s plans to raise revenue through a natural gas tax and eliminating corporate tax loopholes.

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