With nearly 17,000 vehicles, the state fleet costs taxpayers $72 million each year. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett called it ridiculous and vowed to cut back. Target 11's Rick Earle investigates what's being done.
“I’m going to work on cutting the wasteful spending, like the ridiculous 17,000 state cars,” said Corbett in a campaign ad.
Corbett got a new SUV after taking office. The lieutenant governor and both of their wives have new vehicles too, costing the taxpayers nearly $200,000, Earle said.
“We are disappointed by what we call Gov. Corbett’s empty campaign reform platform. I mean, there have been zero reforms enacted since he came to Harrisburg,” said Eric Epstein of Rock the Capital.
The governor said he didn’t ask for the new vehicles, and they were a security issue.
Target 11 discovered that the governor has taken some action, ordering seven members of his executive staff to drive their own cars. And, a spokesperson said the governor is reviewing the entire state fleet, committing to cut back by 20 percent.
First on the chopping block is take-home cars, according to the spokesperson.
Target 11 requested the number of take-home cars from every state agency and discovered that 2,604 state employees get take-home cars to drive to and from work. The gas and maintenance is paid for with your tax dollars.
“As someone who lives in Harrisburg, you can see the abuse on a daily basis. A lot of times they will drive it home, and they will drive it to a campaign event. They will use it for personal use,” said Epstein.
Earle reported that he has heard take-home cars being defended for a couple of reasons. Many of the state workers are on-call 24-7, and probation and parole officers said the cars serve as their offices.
“My constituents didn’t want me to have a state vehicle,” said Rep. Dom Costa of the 21st Legislative District in Allegheny County.
Costa used a state car when he first took office, and even though he believes it costs taxpayers less than mileage reimbursement, he said it just wasn't worth the hassle.
“The issues of the state were being, actually put to the side because of me driving a state vehicle, so I had it for about five months and returned it and use my own vehicle now,” said Costa.
Costa said the house plans to eliminate state cars in two years. Lawmakers will have to use their own cars. They will get reimbursed for mileage.
Just this month, the state launched a new system to better track the use of state vehicles.