House Appropriations Committee Testimony

Earlier this afternoon, I testified in front of the House Appropriations Committee regarding the Office of Open Records’ budget request for Fiscal Year 2015-16. Here’s the full text of my opening comments.

House Appropriations Committee
The Honorable William F. Adolph, Jr., Chair
February 22, 2016

Testimony of Erik Arneson
Executive Director, Office of Open Records

Thank you, Chairman Adolph, Chairman Markosek, and members of the House Appropriations Committee. Good afternoon. It’s an honor to appear before this committee as Executive Director of the Office of Open Records. Chairman Adolph, on a personal note, I’m particularly pleased to have an opportunity to appear in front of you.

I have just a few comments, and then I’ll be very happy to answer any questions.

As I sit before you today, the Office of Open Records has decided nearly 14,000 appeals under the Right-to-Know Law. Last year, the OOR received a record number of appeals – 2,926. We have 10 attorneys who handle appeals. Do the math, and that’s an incredible caseload – nearly 300 appeals per attorney last year. And the OOR only has 30 days to decide each appeal, unless the requester grants us more time.

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OOR Budget Proposal for FY 2016-17

Earlier this week, Governor Tom Wolf unveiled his budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2016-17. For the Office of Open Records, his proposal includes $2.916 million.

That level of funding will allow the OOR to carry out all of its statutorily mandated duties in an effective and efficient manner, including an increase in training courses across the state, a significant expansion of our successful mediation program, additional hearings in complicated cases, and new outreach efforts such as creating online training resources.

I look forward to testifying before the House Appropriations Committee on Monday, February 22, regarding this proposal. (I’ll also post my testimony to this blog.)