Yesterday, Governor Wolf outlined his government reform plan, which calls for a number of reforms that would increase transparency and accountability across state government. The governor’s announcement coincides with the nationwide celebration of Sunshine Week, an effort to remind Americans that open government is good government.
Governor Wolf’s Government That Works Reform Plan will ensure that special interests can no longer take advantage of Pennsylvania’s system of governance. When special interests get too involved in state government, Pennsylvania’s middle class suffers, and our state’s progress is halted.
When Pennsylvania’s democracy works, hardworking Pennsylvanians benefit. Closing loopholes, increasing transparency, and strengthening reform laws will help our government work better — and for more Pennsylvanians across the state.
State Government Reforms
Governor Wolf is calling for a gift ban that applies across government and builds on his administration’s executive order to ban gifts. Pennsylvania is one of ten states with no specific law on limits on gifts to public officials, who are free to take any gift—including cash—so long as the gift is disclosed.
Governor Wolf is calling for all public employees to disclose the amount of compensation they receive from outside employment, within specified bands. This approach would be modeled after disclosure requirements applicable to federal candidates, who report financial interests within specified ranges depending on the type of income being reported.
Governor Wolf is calling for requirements related to disclosure of campaign donations in connection with state contracts. The governor supports legislation that would require businesses that have been awarded contracts to disclose all political contributions made by its officers and employees during the preceding year.
Governor Wolf will increase staffing at the Department of State to crack down on lobbyists by randomly reviewing lobbying disclosure filings for completeness and accuracy. In addition to strengthening internal processes for detecting incomplete filings, the governor supports removal of the exemption of audits from the Right to Know Law.
Governor Wolf supports strong campaign finance reform that would for the first time place limits on contributions to candidates seeking elected office, implement aggregate limits for races, place sensible restrictions on Political Action Committees (PACs), and strengthen reporting and disclosure requirements across the board. In addition, he supports the prohibition of the use of campaign funds for personal expenses, including legal fees.
Governor Wolf’s Commitment to Open Government
Since Governor Wolf has taken office, he has worked to ensure that he is leading a “Sunshine Administration.” The Wolf Administration has taken significant steps forward in making our government more open since day one.
On his first day in office, Governor Wolf signed an executive order banning his administration from accepting gifts.
Also on his first day, Governor Wolf signed an executive order instituting a competitive process for the procurement of commonwealth legal services. The executive order set forth that all contracts awarded for legal services by the Office of General Counsel or any Department were to be procured through competitive bids and that the results were to be made available online.
Two weeks later, Governor Wolf’s public schedule was first published. Governor Wolf’s work calendar is posted each Friday on governor.pa.gov, and his public schedule for the day is posted each morning.
On April 30, 2015, expense reports for Governor Wolf’s cabinet secretaries were first published. Every month, expenses incurred by members of Governor Wolf’s cabinet are posted online for public view.
On September 21, 2015, Office of Inspector General investigation summaries were published online. These routine summaries of completed investigations were published for the first time thanks to the governor’s push for transparency. These reports show any findings of waste, fraud, abuse, and employee misconduct in the Commonwealth’s executive agencies and programs.
The Path Forward
Harrisburg still needs to institute major changes in order to be truly accountable to Pennsylvanians.
Governor Wolf believes that in order for Pennsylvania to be great again, we need a government that restores faith in the fundamental notion that our democracy still works. Governor Wolf is working to ensure that our government is transparent and fully accountable, and that taxpayers know how every penny is spent.
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