Proposal to reduce number of state government offices, reduce costs

Two senators from opposite sides of the state have seen firsthand the floors of empty office space currently owned by Pennsylvania state government agencies. Now, Senators David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks) and Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) have found a way to rehabilitate state-owned space and eliminate the need for additional rental costs.

“We have employees working in rented office space in some of our communities while we have vacant state-owned office space literally right across the street,” Argall said.

Under Argall and Vulakovich’s proposal, the state could sell naming rights to the buildings owned by the state similar to what the state did in 2012 when the State Farm Show Complex’s Exposition Hall was renamed Weis Market’s Exposition Hall. The grocery store chain agreed to a five-year contract netting the state $750,000. The senators want to put the funding into a specific account that will rehabilitate unused office space.

“It is no secret we are in a tough fiscal situation right now regarding the upcoming budget and we need to explore innovative ways to cut costs and raise revenue. This bill by Senator Argall and I is one step toward bringing in revenue without raising taxes to put us on the road to long-term fiscal solvency,” Vulakovich said.

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The measure will also require a report by the Department of General Services to the General Assembly to provide annual updates on the initiative.

According to the senators, the goal of this legislation is to move state employees out of leased facilities and back into offices already owned by the state in order to reduce the cost to taxpayers.

At the end of last year, a report requested by the senators pointed out ways the state could better utilize state-owned office space, how to have more accountability of unused office space and how to save valuable taxpayer resources.