Cutler’s Commentary
5/30/2012
There are many challenges we face in state government to create a better Pennsylvania for us all, and one of the issues I have been focused on for years is reforming the state’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which has been indicative of the fraud occurring in assistance programs throughout the Department of Public Welfare (DPW).

While the thought of an individual defrauding the taxpayers makes me angry, the fact that DPW employees were at least complicit, and on several occasions were in fact the perpetrators of fraud, infuriates me. Just as people expect their legislators to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars, so too should they hold all public employees to these same standards.

With the benchmark of government integrity in mind, I authored House Bill 1991 with the cooperation of Rep. Ron Waters (D-Delaware/Philadelphia), who shared my disappointment that anyone would abuse a program meant to help underprivileged Pennsylvanians.

This legislation would require the departments with oversight authority of LIHEAP and the Weatherization Assistance Program to verify the income eligibility of program applicants.

House Bill 1991 would require employees, contractors, applicants and program recipients to report suspected cases of fraud to the Office of Inspector General. I believe this requirement will lead to greater accountability and put public employees on notice that they are responsible custodians of public funds.

In March, the House Health Committee held a public hearing regarding the legislation. Auditor General Jack Wagner testified at the hearing. He has been a wonderful asset for good government in Pennsylvania, and I have enjoyed working with him to improve this and other pieces of legislation dealing with fraud.

My legislation specifies that the auditor general’s office conduct periodic performance audits of the programs to indentify fraud. This office has been very involved in finding weaknesses and oversight gaps in our public programs. I believe it is important to continue its involvement in scrutinizing programs where a perceived culture of impropriety has been pervasive for many years.

I am hopeful the House Health Committee will soon bring this legislation up for a vote and will send it to the full House for debate and consideration. This is an issue that has needed attention for years, and I believe there has never been a better time to streamline state government and return the public’s trust in government officials.

If you have any questions about LIHEAP reform, welfare reform in general, or any state matter, please do not hesitate to contact me at (717) 786-4551, or electronically at RepCutler.com or Facebook.com/RepBryanCutler.

State Representative Bryan Cutler
100th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Nicole Wamsley
nwamsley@pahousegop.com
717.783.8063
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