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PA Gov. Josh Shapiro’s budget address venue changed and it didn’t come cheap

By Jan Murphy | (TNS)

This year’s governor’s budget address was unlike any other — and it had nothing to do with the $48.3 billion he wants to spend.

Staged in the spectacular Pennsylvania Capitol Rotunda for the first-time ever on Feb. 6, there was no escaping a view of Gov. Josh Shapiro standing at a podium on a landing on the grand marble staircase with a commonwealth flag and American flag behind him. He would deliver what turned out to be the longest budget speech since 2006.

Perhaps he just wanted taxpayers to get their money’s worth.

His 86 minute, 31 second speech in that unique venue cost Pennsylvanians nearly $41,500, according to House of Representatives and Department of General Services responses to Right to Know requests. The cost was borne by the House and House Democratic Caucus, according to the receipts.

The costs included:

– $462 for nuts, bolts and other hardware items

– $2,211 for credentials

– $5,601 for Commonwealth Media Services which handled the audio and visual tasks and photography and videography

-$24,142 for rental of projectors, screens, monitors and installation cost

-$9,059 for printing costs for signage and stickers

Not included was the cost of the stepped-up security in the Capitol that day that included a heavy presence of Pennsylvania State Police troopers, along with Capitol Police and House and Senate security officers.

Large screens flanked each side of the staircase and 15 monitors located on the three floors above gave the several hundred spectators a view of the governor or the occasional graphics displayed to emphasize points in his speech.

Shapiro acknowledged the unique location the House chose for him to deliver his budget address during his remarks and said, “I want to thank Madam Speaker [Joanna] McClinton for deciding to convene this session here and inviting me to deliver these remarks.” His spokesman declined further comment.

The 2024-2025 budget address ceremony was more of a production this year than it typically is because the House chamber, the usual location for this speech, being in a state of disrepair at the time.

Work to fix damage caused by a year-old water leak above the ceiling in the chamber was completed earlier than expected but didn’t wrap up until three days after the speech.

“This year’s budget address presented unique challenges outside of the state House’s control,” said Nicole Reigelman, a spokeswoman for McClinton, D-Philadelphia. “It was an unprecedented occasion in the 120-year-plus history of the Capitol building, if not the 342-year-plus history of the General Assembly itself.”

Some suggested that the Forum auditorium across the street from the Capitol or even the Senate chamber could have been used without requiring the set-up costs associated with the production in the Rotunda but Reigelman said each of those locations came with their own obstacles.

While preparing the Rotunda to serve as a makeshift House chamber for a day was a major undertaking – and made for a remarkable backdrop for a gubernatorial address, she said some useful pointers were learned.

“Should the budget address ever need to be hosted outside of the House chamber again – and hopefully it won’t – we will be armed with lessons from 2024,” she said.

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Source: Berkshire mont

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