Promoting Fiscal Responsibility in Government

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Prior to taking office, Senator Teplitz spent most of his career at the Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General promoting fiscal responsibility and exposing the waste, fraud, and abuse of public funds. He is using this experience to reduce the cost of government and direct the resulting savings to other areas in order to keep taxes as low as possible. He has also fought to ensure that Pennsylvania homeowners receive the property tax relief that taxpayers were promised when casino gambling was legalized in Pennsylvania.

In addition, Senator Teplitz understands that a positive business climate creates thriving businesses and thriving businesses, in turn, create and retain high quality, family-sustaining jobs.

Finally, Senator Teplitz recognizes that the previous administration’s cuts to state funding of public education have led to tax increases at the local level. He believes that the commonwealth has a responsibility to provide every child with the opportunity for a quality education and he is working to ensure that responsibility is fulfilled.

Legislation

  • Property Tax Relief: Senate Bill 1010 ensure that more Pennsylvanians will receive property tax relief without seeing the other types of taxes they pay go up, by centralizing the process in a single state agency. Under the bill, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, which currently collects all gaming revenues, would oversee and coordinate the distribution of property tax relief funds and oversee the administration of the funds at the local level to ensure compliance with the Gaming Act. The department would be required to submit a report to the General Assembly every five years on its duties relating to the administration of property tax relief. The bill would also require the Department of Revenue to do an annual survey of all Pennsylvania taxpayers to ensure that eligible homeowners are receiving their property tax relief and that ineligible properties are correctly excluded or removed. The Department would then be required to notify eligible homeowners if they are not receiving property tax relief and assist them in the application process.
  • SERS and PSERS: Senate Bill 982 amends the State Employees’ Retirement System Retirement Code and the Public School Employees’ Retirement Code to require both SERS and PSERS to maintain formal training programs for board members and to develop conflict of interest standards that relate to a board member’s fiduciary duty.  The legislation also requires all investment advisory consultants and investment managers to provide an up-to-date comprehensive disclosure statement of all campaign contributions made by their investment firms to board members within the past ten 10 years.
  • Gaming Control Board Procurement Policies: Senate Bill 718 requires the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to make its procurement policies more transparent and accountable to the taxpayers. The Gaming Control Board would prepare detailed, written justifications with supporting documentation for sole source contracts.  Additionally, the board, in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General and the Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police, would establish a policy governing expense documentation that would clearly define allowable reimbursable expenses.
  • First Class City Swaps Restrictions: Senate Bill 343 places certain restrictions on the use of interest-rate management agreements (otherwise known as “swaps”).  Currently, there are no restrictions on the use of interest-rate management agreements by a First Class City or a First Class County.
  • Municipal Swaps Restrictions: Senate Bill 342 puts in place best practice standards regarding the use of qualified interest rate management agreements, or so-called municipal “swaps,” by local governments, school districts and municipal authorities. (co-prime sponsor)
  • Ethics Commission and Municipal Authorities: Senate Bill 341 allows the State Ethics Commission to investigate alleged ethical violations by individuals involved in financial transactions by municipal authorities. Currently, the Ethics Commission does not have this jurisdiction. If ethical violations are found, they would be considered a violation of the state Public Official and Employee Ethics Act and those individuals would be subject to the scrutiny of the Ethics Commission, district attorney, or the Office of Attorney General. (co-prime sponsor) 
  • LGUDA Reform: Senate Bill 340 makes several reforms to the Local Government Unit Debt Act (LGUDA), including limiting local government guarantees of municipal authority borrowings, eliminating the ability to charge a fee for issuing a guarantee, and giving the state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) greater authority over the borrowing processes of local government units. (co-prime sponsor)
  • Elimination of Automatic Legislative COLAs:Senate Bill 184 eliminates the automatic mid-term cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for legislators. Senate Bill 185 amends the state constitution to make clear that no legislator can receive a COLA in the middle of a term. Teplitz returned his mid-term COLA to the Pennsylvania Treasury Department in 2014 and 2013.
  • Economic Development and Fiscal Accountability Act: Senate Bill 154 would require DCED to submit an annual economic development budget report to the General Assembly providing details regarding uncollected tax revenues resulting from tax credits, abatements, exemptions and reductions, as well as all state-related expenditures for economic development. This legislation would also enact further limitations on and procedures for allocation of grant funding, provide for penalties for noncompliance, and impose requirements for public disclosure. 
  • Pennsylvania First Program: Senate Bill 152 would require the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to institute policies and procedures to improve the administration of the commonwealth’s Pennsylvania First Program (formerly known as the Opportunity Grant Program). This bill would maximize grant awards and make the program more accountable to taxpayers. The proposed legislation incorporates recommendations from a special performance audit of the program by the Department of the Auditor General that Teplitz had worked on as the agency’s chief counsel and policy director prior to his election to the Senate.
  • Weatherization Assistance and Energy Efficiency: Senate Bill 151 would establish energy-efficient and energy-savings performance goals for commonwealth buildings and requires the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to institute policies and procedures that will lessen potential fraud and abuse within the commonwealth’s Weatherization Assistance Program and make the program more accountable to taxpayers.

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