HARRISBURG - Two of Gov. Corbett's cabinet appointees sailed through state Senate committee hearings Tuesday, amid talk of ever-tightening budgets.
C. Alan Walker, the former coal executive nominated to head the Department of Community and Economic Development, told senators he would resist cuts in state aid to communities and businesses and advocated stepping up regional consolidation of police and other services.
"Dollars are going to be hard to come by," Walker warned members of the Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee during an hour-long hearing that preceded its unanimous endorsement.
Also Tuesday, the State Government Committee endorsed the nomination of Sheri Phillips as secretary of the Department of General Services, which oversees construction, purchasing, publishing, and maintenance for state government. She served as director of management services for the attorney general's office during Corbett's six-year tenure there.
They were the first in a series of hearings on Corbett's cabinet nominations, each of which must be confirmed by the full Senate. No confirmation votes are anticipated before April, said Erik Arneson, spokesman for the Senate's Republican majority.
Walker, 66, from Clearfield County, said he was impressed by the performance of the department, which was shaped by Democrat Ed Rendell's administration.
"There's really, basically not too much wrong with the programs that are there," he said.
Despite a projected $4 billion shortfall in the fiscal year that starts July 1, Walker said he would push to at least maintain current spending levels for economic development. The department's approved 2010-11 budget is more than $320 million.