Successful PA Senate Bill Calls For ICA Transparency, And Eventually, Its End

Jun 28, 2016

Democratic State Sens. Jay Costa and Wayne Fontana, both of Allegheny County, field questions about Senate Bill 1221 on Tuesday, June 28, 2016, shortly after its bipartisan passage in the Senate.
Credit State Sen. Jay Costa

  Pittsburgh’s state-appointed financial oversight board could be required to adhere to much stricter transparency requirements under a reform bill unanimously passed by the state Senate on Tuesday.

In response to revelations that the director of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority allegedly mismanaged financial records, state Senator Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) said the bill would impose new requirements on the ICA regarding ethical standards and record-keeping.

“It requires the agency to maintain a publicly accessible website so anyone can go on and see what’s going on as far as the financial records,” said Fontana, a co-sponsor of the legislation.

The bill would also create a new process to funnel annual casino gaming tax revenue to the city’s pension funds -- even after ICA oversight expires.

“Whenever the opportunity arises where Act 47 ends, ICA then ends. Then there’s this revenue generated, $10 million, where we didn’t want it to necessarily go into just – without any limitations – on into the General Fund of the city," said state Senator Jay Costa (D-Allegheny), the bill's primary sponsor. "We wanted to make sure that they addressed one of the most pressing needs in the city’s operations, and that is funding the pension system.”

The legislation would bring the ICA's authority over city budgets to an end either by July 2019 or when the city is removed from state financial oversight, known as Act 47.

After bipartisan approval in the Senate, sponsors said they hope to have the bill passed by the House and signed into law in the next two weeks.