Whatever good state budget hearings are doing in Harrisburg -- where there is no budget nor prospects for one -- they are providing York County Republican Sen. Scott Wagner with something akin to a pigeon shoot.
The fiery, anti-tax first-term conservative, a bane to Democrats and the Wolf administration, is using the hearings to hammer his message that the state's biggest problems are related to spending.
On Monday, he went after Wolf Budget Secretary Randy Albright over the governor's assertion last year that the state could save up to $500 million by renegotiating and reducing public pension management fees.
What happened to that, Wagner wondered? When Albright said the administration's working on it, Wagner said, "not a good answer."
Then Wagner, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, went after education dollars.
He asserted the average cost of a teacher's salary, pension and benefits is $150,000.
He asked about a recent audit of the Pittsburgh School District that found $129 million surplus.
He hit Philly teachers for paying nothing toward their health-care costs (even lawmakers pay something).
And he asked Albright if he was aware 17 Philadelphia School District teachers are on the teachers' union payroll and never set foot in a classroom. When Albright referred to the info as "anecdotal," Wagner suggested since Wolf is seeking more money for the district, "you better find out" for sure.
On Wednesday, he hit the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for leasing 80 acres of land UNDER the Allegheny River for $4,000 an acre. In an email, Wagner wrote, "I want to meet the genius who entered into this deal."
He tagged the State Police for spending $28 million for between 135 and 145 full-time personnel permanently assigned to casinos throughout the state.
And he pointed to reporting by the Harrisburg Patriot-News on state payroll data showing that in 2013 there were 4,822 employees making $100,000 or more and that by 2015 the number grew to 7,692.
Wagner, a wealthy self-made businessman (he runs trash and trucking companies) says what he's seen since winning a special election in the spring of 2014 is "simply breathtaking and makes me angry."