Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Wolf: No Details On New Growing Greener, No Hiring Freeze But Ceilings

At a bill signing event Wednesday, Gov. Wolf said in response to a question about whether he was going to propose a reboot of the Growing Greener Program, “I’m in favor of the state making an investment in the environment. We are not at the point where we have the details on that, but I am supportive of the Commonwealth making an investment just as Gov. Ridge did, as Gov. Rendell did. This would be the third installment of that.”
A January 21 strategy paper announcing the Chesapeake Bay cleanup program reboot, said the Administration was “obtaining additional resources for water quality improvement by participating in planning a new round of “Growing Greener” funding, which will have Bay compliance as a primary goal, potentially making available several hundred million dollars to devote to local water quality issues and ultimately Bay compliance.”
It is the worst-kept secret in Harrisburg the Administration has been meeting with environmental groups to work up a next generation Growing Greener proposal.
Hiring Freeze
The Governor was also asked whether his Administration had a hiring freeze and was not filling vacant positions.  He responded, “You’re telling me something I don’t know. I am proposing that? We lifted the freeze.”
He added agencies are filling vacant positions-- “We are. We have ceilings, we have mandated ceilings, but we are.”
He continued, “We have a couple sets of ceilings, because we don’t have a final budget for 2015-16, based on the different bills that have come out of the Legislature. I am trying to make government work more efficiently and better than it has worked before.
“We have some real holes that have been created in just meeting our basic obligations to inspect elevators, to make sure teachers can do their jobs. I want to make sure we are living within the constraints we have to live it but doing the best we can. There is no across-the-board hiring freeze.”
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported late Tuesday the Governor’s Budget Office imposed what it said was a temporary freeze on filling 200 vacant positions within DEP, implementing a 7 percent reduction in staff complement.
DEP will only be able to fill just 34 vacant positions in its overall complement of 2,495 and none of the 24 vacant positions in the Oil and Gas Program, even though that program is supported by permit fees.
This action was taken in spite of the fact the budget Gov. Wolf signed in December contained more money in its personnel line-items than in the previous year.
These new numbers mean DEP’s authorized complement has shrunk from 3,200 in 2002-03 to its current 2,495, about 705 positions-- 22 percent-- as DEP Secretary John Quigley mentioned in a video report to DEP employees last week in a way that he considered them lost.
Related Story:
Op-Ed: Pennsylvania Must Invest In Its New Clean Water Plan

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