Wozniak Bill Would Prevent Creation of New PA Department

HARRISBURG, June 18, 2012 – State Sen. John N. Wozniak has launched a new effort to prevent the creation of a new department in Pennsylvania government.

Wozniak was among a handful of legislators who opposed 2010 legislation authorizing a new cabinet-level Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs.  Senate Bill 1536 would head-off the estimated $2 million start-up cost for the department and return the programs to the Department of Health, where they have been administered for 30 years.

“Pennsylvania’s citizens have been loud and clear that bigger government does not make better government and taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be wasted on bureaucracy no matter how well-intentioned,” Wozniak said. “My new legislation reflects the budget constraints we face and gives the General Assembly another chance to expand the bureaucracy.”

The House and Senate approved House Bill 1186 (Act 50) in July 2010, but steps to create the department were delayed until this year, when Gov. Tom Corbett announced his intention to move forward with the plan and appoint a new secretary to oversee it.

“Governor Corbett has been clear in his intention to curb spending and government growth,” Wozniak said. “In his words, we need to separate the ‘nice to haves’ from the ‘need to haves.’  Creating a new department and hiring more directors is inconsistent with that vision.”

The Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Prevention was established in the Department of Health in 1972 and administers a combination of state and federal funds intended to address abuse issues.

Before Act 50 of 2010, it had been 15 years since Pennsylvania created a new department by splitting the Department of Environmental Resources into the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

In January, Gov. Corbett nominated Gary Tennis, the former chief of the legislation unit in the Philadelphias District Attorneys Office, to oversee the new drug and alcohol department and his appointment was confirmed by the Senate in May.

Wozniak was one of three dissenting votes.

“I recognize the seriousness of drug and alcohol abuse in our communities and I support new ideas and new options for treatment and prevention,” Wozniak said. “But I have yet to see a concrete reason how creation of a new department improves on what we’re already doing.”