Four Ways Governor Tom Wolf is Cutting Costs and Streamlining Government

By: J.J. Abbott, Press Secretary

January 09, 2017

As we have in years past, our commonwealth faces a serious budget deficit that means we have limited funds to provide the services the people of Pennsylvania expect from their government.

Addressing the deficit takes choices: state government can raise new revenue, make broad cuts in funding for important programs, or work in a targeted way to reduce expenditures by transforming government.

Governor Wolf has already said he will not seek to raise broad-based taxes. He also does not want to make indiscriminate cuts like budgets did five years ago to schools and services for the most vulnerable.

Instead, the governor’s 2017-2018 budget will challenge the status quo and look for ways to cut costs and streamline government. Together, these four steps are estimated to save hundreds of millions of dollars.

Before the governor presents his budget, he has already taken action.

Here are four ways Governor Wolf has recently worked to rein in costs, cut bureaucracy, and streamline government.

Drastically Reduce Spending on Prisons and Corrections

Last week, Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel announced the department’s plan to close two prisons and reduce by half the community corrections population by June 30, 2017, as part of spending reductions in response to the state budget deficit. Wetzel said that the DOC can close prisons without a security risk because of the historic reduction in the inmate population and every affected employee will be offered a position elsewhere in the Department of Corrections.

In addition to the closures, the department is considering several other internal cost-saving measures, such as reducing staff overtime and reducing capacity at community corrections facilities (or halfway houses).

Eliminate Thousands of Unfilled State Jobs

In mid-December, Governor Wolf’s office sent a memo to department heads announcing that thousands of unfilled state jobs would be eliminated in an effort to control government costs. Agencies were directed to look at their current workforce, which would now be the number of positions that could be filled by the agency, to determine how best to serve the people of Pennsylvania.

Consolidate Information Technology and Human Resources Services

Governor Wolf last week sent a memo to department heads outlining his plan to eliminate duplicative and unnecessary bureaucracy by consolidating administrative functions of human resources and information technology.

Governor Wolf wants to streamline many of these administrative functions – just as we are asking school districts and police departments to do – to save money, rather than cut important funding or programs. State government is too siloed. Currently, some agencies receive these services through a shared service model while others have their own offices and staff. This is not efficient or most effective.

Minimize New and Renewed Leases

Governor Wolf announced that no leases may be renewed without the Department of General Services review and approval of whether opportunities exist to reduce our current footprint to drive costs down.


These cost-saving measures are a good start, but we can and should do more.

Governor Wolf has asked each agency to look at how to flatten and streamline across their organizations in order to achieve operational efficiencies and allow agencies to better focus resources on delivering programs and services to Pennsylvania.

These actions are key to ensuring we can continue to invest in middle class families, our schools, and Pennsylvania’s future.

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