Friday, January 23, 2009

State Capitol Roundup for January 23

Here's this week's State Capitol Roundup courtesy of Rep. Bob Mensch (R-147):

Task Force to Hold Hearings on Performance-Based Budgeting, Tax Reform

Upon news by the Rendell administration Thursday that the state deficit could reach as much as $2.3 billion by the end of the fiscal year in June, the House Republican Policy Committee's Budget and Economic Policy Task Force, of which Rep. Bob Mensch (R-147th) is an appointed member, will hold two hearings next week, with the discussion Wednesday on performance-based budgeting, a strategy used to prioritize funding for proven programs with solid results. Thursday's hearing will focus on the governor's 2004 Business Tax Reform Commission's recommendations. The commission developed ways to make business taxes fairer, simpler and more competitive with other states in order to attract business and industry and create family-sustaining jobs in Pennsylvania. During this year's budget process, House Republicans are committed to finding ways to reduce the deficit while keeping taxes at current levels for Pennsylvania's working families. For more information on the hearings, visit

Blues Call Off Merger of Health Insurance Giants

Reacting to a report that the Pennsylvania insurance commissioner would deny a plan by Highmark Inc. and Independence Blue Cross - two of the state's largest health insurance providers - to merge, the Blues companies Wednesday called off their plans and withdrew their application to consolidate. The merger has been the focus of public hearings by the House and Senate insurance committees. Rep. Bob Mensch (R-147th) will continue his position on the House Insurance Committee throughout the 2009-2010 Session. Since the proposal was announced in 2007, House Republicans raised numerous concerns that the merger of the two giants would reduce competition in a market where health insurance premiums are continually increasing. If the merger had been approved by the state, the combined entity would have been the state's largest health insurance company. House Republicans are continuing their commitment this session to developing ways to make health care more accessible and affordable through marketplace competition.

Legislative Plan to Invite Citizens to Invest in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania citizens wishing to invest in Pennsylvania would be able to do so under legislation being sponsored by Rep. Scott Petri (R-Bucks). Under the proposal, residents would be able to purchase "Energy Independence Bonds" for energy infrastructure improvements that will provide cleaner, less expensive electricity, and Keystone Infrastructure Improvement Bonds (KIIB) to address needed improvements to the state's roads, highways, bridges, dams, and water and sewer systems. The bonds, which would be sold in $100 increments and carry a guaranteed rate of return, would provide citizens an opportunity to invest in Pennsylvania, create jobs and improve the state's infrastructure. The investment plan would be similar to the U.S. Savings Bond program.

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