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'Pa. One Caucus' has sights set on savings in 2022

The bipartisan group of eight liberals and eight conservatives is working together to find unnecessary spending in the Pa. State House.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — What do a city liberal and a rural conservative have in common? Plenty, if you ask state Representatives Jared Solomon and Jesse Topper.

"This place," both said in separate interviews, "is all about relationships."

The relationship the two have formed in their years together in Pennsylvania's House of Representatives – Solomon, a Democrat from northeast Philadelphia, and Topper, a Republican from Bedford County in southwest Pa. – has led to the formation of what they are calling the PA One Caucus.

The concept behind the caucus is simple. 

16 state representatives from across the commonwealth – eight Democrats and eight Republicans – work to find common ground on the one issue they all agree on: saving money. What they are learning is that, within the Capitol building alone, there's potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasteful spending.

For example, in the House of Representatives, democrats and republicans use separate mail carriers, web domains and stationary.  

"It's so incredibly annoying," Solomon said. "Like, why is that the case?"

Even printers are separated in the House. Democrats can't use a republican printer and vice versa.

Lawmakers first introduced the PA One Caucus last April, though the relationships among the 16 members formed years before that. That's part of the reason why Solomon says they were hand-picked to find bipartisan common ground. 

That doesn't mean the PA One Caucus members are politically moderate. Both Solomon and Topper are quick to admit they remain far apart on certain "big ticket" items on which you would expect liberals and conservatives to clash. 

However, since its formation, the caucus highlighted six areas of inefficiency within the House which they have brought forward to party leadership. Three of them are in the process of going through cost-saving analysis right now:

  • Merging mail rooms
  • Combining print shops
  • Purchasing bulk orders (pens, papers) together

"What is it about printing that's conservative or liberal?" Solomon quipped.

The other three which they hope to accomplish in 2022 include:

  • Merging information technology (IT) departments
  • Combining some human resources
  • Merging House and Senate security 

"Do we really need House security, Senate security and Capitol Police? Or can that fall under one umbrella?" wondered Topper.

A full list of the caucus members, separated alphabetically, is below:

  • Rep. Joe Ciresi, D-Montgomery
  • Rep. Pam DeLissio, D-Philadelphia
  • Rep. Steve Malagari, D-Montgomery
  • Rep. Tom Mehaffie, R-Dauphin
  • Rep. Natalie Mihalek, R-Washington
  • Rep. Chris Quinn, R-Delaware
  • Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Philadelphia
  • Rep. Christina Sappey, D-Chester
  • Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver, R-Northumberland
  • Rep. Meghan Schroeder, R-Bucks
  • Rep. Jared Solomon, D-Philadelphia
  • Rep. Melissa Shusterman, D-Chester
  • Rep. Wendi Thomas, R-Bucks
  • Rep. Kathleen Tomlinson, R-Bucks
  • Rep. Jesse Topper, R-Bedford
  • Rep. Dan Williams, D-Chester

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