Feb. 26, 2024

Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) Secretary Nancy Walker, Unemployment Compensation Deputy Secretary Maria Macus, Compensation and Insurance Deputy Secertary Jerry Mullery, Workforce Deputy Secretary Dan Kuba, Safety Labor Management Relations Deputy Secretary Christopher Hallock, OVR Director Denise Verhimak, and Deputy Secretary of Administration Scott Weiant testified today before the House Appropriations Committee.

House Republicans focused their questions on the various workforce development programs within the department – both new and existing. Additionally, Republicans questioned the impacts of the proposed minimum wage increase on job growth, the amount of unemployment compensation fraud and whether the dollars were recouped, and labor law enforcement practices.

Key Takeaways

· Big on spending, slim on details, yet again. When asked, another Shapiro cabinet member could not provide any details on a $2 million NEW initiative referred to as “Skills-Based Hiring.”

· House Republicans asked pointed questions on how raising the minimum wage will result in the economic growth touted by the Shapiro Administration, without negatively impacting job growth and small business profits. After listening to responses from L&I, House Republicans remain skeptical the Shapiro proposal is the best path forward.

· The unemployment compensation customer service wait times have seen a positive turnaround since the COVID-19 pandemic. However, House Republicans remain concerned that safeguards currently in place are insufficient to deter improper payments and fraud.

· House Republicans questioned the actions of the department on labor law enforcement. Rather than focusing department efforts on levying fines and prosecuting small businesses, the backbone of Pennsylvania’s economy, L&I should be cooperatively working alongside these small businesses on compliance education and correcting the issue.

Notable Q&A

Rep. Zach Mako asks how eliminating the college degree requirement for state jobs is working and how the governor plans to make good on his promise to add this to the private sector. 

Rep. Mike Cabell requested assurances that L&I will not engage in the enforcement overreach on businesses seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Rep. Clint Owlett asks L&I Secretary Walker why she has yet to approve a new classification for workers who will be installing new broadband infrastructure. 

Full Hearing

Watch the full hearing here.

Rep. Seth Grove, Republican Chairman of the PA House Appropriations Committee
196th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives