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Governor Pushes Plan to Consolidate Four State Agencies

WILKES-BARRE — Governor Tom Wolf visited Wilkes-Barre Monday to explain to seniors why consolidating four agencies into one could benefit them. If the pla...

WILKES-BARRE -- Governor Tom Wolf visited Wilkes-Barre Monday to explain to seniors why consolidating four agencies into one could benefit them.

If the plan goes through, the new unified agency would be called the Department of Health and Human Services.

"I don't think anyone in the country is doing this," said Gov. Wolf.

Speaking to seniors at the Charles T. Adams Senior Center on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre, Governor Wolf announced his plan to save $90 million a year by consolidating four state agencies into one.

"Instead of asking our citizens to do more, we're asking our government to do more," said Gov. Wolf.

Governor Wolf wants to consolidate the departments of Human Services, Health, Drug and Alcohol programs, and Aging.

"Truly, this wasn't a surprise. It was a culmination of fragmentation, duplication," said Pennsylvania Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne.

The governor's administration believes consolidating the four departments will save money by making government more efficient.

People at this senior center hope that having just one state agency to call for services will mean less confusion.

"It's very good. It's a good idea!" said Jones Schwartz.  "I'm getting older. I'm going to be 75 soon, so it'll make my life better."

In fact, sometimes workers at the senior center don't even know who to call. They hope Wolf's proposal becomes reality.

"It'll make my job a lot easier, but it'll make it better for the people. They can come in and find exactly what they're looking for easier," said senior center director Toni Mathis.

The governor's proposal also includes closing some county assistance offices, particularly those that have a high employee turnover.

The state legislature has until the end of June to approve a budget.