By DAVE ARGALL

Special to The TIMES NEWS

On June 28, the Senate Government Management and Cost Study Commission, a bipartisan 10-member Commission representing a wide variety of interests in the public and private sectors, presented its final report to the General Assembly outlining over 40 recommendations to reduce or eliminate unnecessary government expenditures. These recommendations totaled $457 million in direct savings to the taxpayers.

Since February, this Commission, which I was honored to chair, had held seven public hearings, considered testimony from over 30 private-sector and public-sector participants, reviewed hundreds of emails from state residents and examined additional recommendations during extensive work sessions over the course of 50 hours.

This Commission has identified real savings that will be important to balance future state budgets and avoid unnecessary tax increases. The recommendations, which ranged from a comprehensive audit of the state welfare system, endorsing strategies aimed at reducing the ever-increasing prison population, and reducing or leasing the state vehicle fleet, will prove cost effective in the long term.

In addition, I am thankful that the Commission has received numerous emails from Pennsylvanians with a great deal of positive feedback. I am hopeful that these recommendations (a complete list can be obtained at http://www.senatorargall.com/commission.htm [1] http://www.senatorargall.com/commission.htm [1] or by contacting any of my local offices) can serve as a catalyst for continuing the process of reducing costs in state government for the future.

While some of the 40 recommendations can impact the state budget next year, the majority of the recommendations are focused on long-term budget solutions including consolidation and streamlining of state services and greater efficiencies.

This economy is the worst that many of us have seen in our lifetimes. Many are referring to it as the 'Great Recession,' the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930's. As a result, we must all work together to reduce unnecessary waste in government.