Rural Revitalization Commission could cost $130,000

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(The Center Square) — As Pennsylvania’s push for a Rural Revitalization Commission moves through the legislature, the public gets a cost estimate.

A fiscal note expects the commission will run taxpayers $130,000 in the coming year.

The 17-member commission, proposed in April, would issue reports on population swings, economic swings, education, health care access and other topics with an eye toward improving rural Pennsylvania. It could also hold public hearings and make recommendations to deal with rural population decline.

Legislators promoting the commission argued it could encourage leaders to work together and serve as a model for other states to follow.

“(We can) look at it as ‘we can be really scared of these population changes — or people can look at it as an opportunity,” Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Williamsport, said during an April press conference.

House Bill 2225, which would establish the commission, passed in the House in May 121-79 and awaits action in the Senate.

According to the bill’s fiscal note, the commission’s cost would come from hiring a policy analyst to write its reports and other responsibilities, estimated at $119,000. Covering the expenses of a half-dozen commission appointees not already part of the state government would cost another $12,000 annually.

Costs could grow in the future, too.

“There could be a fiscal impact if any funds were appropriated by the General Assembly, for the purpose of funding a Commission administered grant program,” the fiscal impact noted.

The House vote garnered support from 21 Republican legislators to get it though.

“This project is very important,” Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Wilkes Barre, said during an Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee hearing in April. “This legislation would provide help to make sure rural leaders are leading and revitalizing our communities.”