HARRISBURG – At a time when Pennsylvanians are making enormous sacrifices in their day-to-day lives, today the Pennsylvania House of Representatives took the first steps toward finding solutions to the growing list of professional and economic impacts from the COVID-19 virus.
The House passed Senate Bill 327
with language that will establish the COVID-19 Cost and Recovery Task Force. The interbranch bipartisan group will be assigned to track and manage the crisis while also developing long-term recovery plans for the Commonwealth.
“Pennsylvanians in all corners of the Commonwealth are suffering from the effects of COVID-19, and from the mitigation procedures designed to slow the spread of the virus,” House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) said. “However, that suffering should not be the only story. The task force will ensure input and data is coming from all areas of state government, helping find solutions and a pathway to recovery as efficiently and safely as possible.”
The bill also would establish the COVID-19 debt cost reduction review, which would direct all state agencies responsible for any level of borrowing to examine existing debts and determine if refinancing with current interest rates would be in the best interest of taxpayers.
“There is nothing to celebrate about this virus; however, one positive result is substantially reduced borrowing costs. We should re-examine all state debts and potentially save tens of millions of dollars. That savings could be used to help people and programs that will face monumental challenges as we work to recover from this crisis,” Cutler said.
The final piece of the bill establishes the COVID-19 emergency regulation suspension and waiver reporting requirement, which requires the governor to provide the General Assembly with written and official notice any time his administration changes, suspends or waives existing state law in response to the pandemic.
“The state Constitution is very clear – it is the job of the General Assembly to make laws. If the governor changes any of those laws, he must provide official notice. This pandemic is no different,” Cutler added.
“Our members have serious concerns with the haphazard manner with which the Wolf administration has attempted to handle the business waiver process,” Cutler said. “We have little confidence in the administration’s ability to recognize the long-term impacts of the decisions that have already been made. House Republicans are working on a plan to find the right balance between economic health and public health. A bill providing a path for businesses that follow federal safety recommendations to return to work was amended in the House Appropriations Committee and could face floor consideration when the House returns to session.
“Millions of Pennsylvanians are following social distancing, wearing masks and following other guidelines to try and slow the spread of the virus as much as possible. They also see a light at the end of the tunnel,” Cutler added. “Democrats today voted in unison against working together, against helping the state recover and against saving tax dollars in a year where we will face the largest financial challenge in a generation.
“House Republicans flatly reject the idea that we must choose between either protecting public health or safeguarding our economy. We believe we can help both and we must do so to ensure we have a healthy and prosperous Commonwealth.”
Representative Bryan Cutler
100th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives