Saylor to chair Appropriations panel in House

HARRISBURG (AP) — House Republicans on Tuesday put a veteran lawmaker from York County at the head of the powerful Appropriations Committee, which plays a leading role in crafting Pennsylvania’s annual state budget.

GOP state representatives voted behind closed doors to make Rep. Stan Saylor chairman of Appropriations, a spot that opened up with the retirement of Rep. Bill Adolph from Delaware County.

Saylor first was elected to represent a rural and suburban district in 1992. He has served as whip and most recently chaired the Education Committee.

House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, and House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, retained their leadership spots unanimously.

Turzai said their focus will be on “fiscal stewardship,” private-sector jobs, values and transparent and limited government.

Reed said the challenges ahead include working out gambling expansion, expanded privatization of liquor sales and changes to the large public-sector pension plans.

Other new House leaders are Rep. Marcy Toepel, R-Montgomery, taking over as caucus chairwoman upon the retirement of Rep. Sandy Major, R-Susquehanna; and Rep. Kurt Masser, R-Columbia, caucus administrator.

Republicans expanded their majority in last week’s election, growing from 119 to 122 members in the 203-seat House.

House Democrats retained their leadership team, headed by Minority Leader Frank Dermody of Allegheny County and Minority Whip Mike Hanna of Clinton County, following several elections in which their numbers have dwindled.

In the Senate, Republicans and Democrats plan to pick their leaders Wednesday. The GOP also expanded its control of the 50-member Senate in last week’s voting, from 31 seats to 34.

The new Republican legislative majorities are the largest of any political party in modern Pennsylvania history. In January, the House GOP will seat the largest majority of either party in the chamber in 60 years, when the Constitution allowed seven more seats, or 210. In the Senate, the GOP will seat the biggest majority of either side in almost 70 years, since the 1949-50 session.

Swearing-in day is Jan. 3.

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