HARRISBURG – In light of ongoing concerns about the PA Department of Community and Economic Development’s (DCED) handling of the COVID-19 crisis, Republican senators are calling on the Auditor General to begin an immediate audit of the agency.
According to State Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33), the audit would help shine a light on the Wolf Administration’s handling of the waiver process for businesses that wished to stay open during the Governor’s emergency declaration, and subsequent shutdown of operations not deemed to be “life-sustaining.”
The waiver process has been roundly criticized for lacking consistency, common sense and transparency.
“Sadly during this pandemic, clarity, oversight and accountability have been sorely missing from Governor Wolf’s deliberations,” said Mastriano. “He has not worked with the General Assembly, nor sought to build a coalition with patriotic Pennsylvanians, to come up with a plan to intelligently guide us through these times.”
Mastriano noted that in some cases, the list of non-life-sustaining businesses that were prohibited from operating did not match federal guidance. As a result, entire industries were shuttered in Pennsylvania, while they continued to operate in other states.
“Given recent developments, we formally request you take this proclaimed passion for protecting Pennsylvania taxpayers during COVID-19 and your constitutional obligation as Pennsylvania’s fiscal watchdog, to immediately begin an audit of the Department of Community and Economic Development,” said the letter to Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, that was signed by all 28 Republican senators.
The expanded list of business closures pushed more than 1.6 million Pennsylvanians into the Unemployment Compensation system – more than any other state in the nation except California.
At a Senate hearing last week, Mastriano pressed DCED Secretary Dennis Davin to release information about the businesses that were approved or denied waivers. However, there was no indication from the Wolf Administration when that information might be available.
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