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Pa. can’t afford to change name of welfare dept., secretary says

March 19. 2013 11:53PM
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HARRISBURG — The acting head of Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare said Tuesday the state can’t afford a legislative proposal to change its name to the Department of Human Services.

Secretary Bev Mackereth said the change would cost about $8 million, and she would support the idea if not for its hefty price tag.

Rep. Thomas Murt, R-Montgomery, has introduced the bill, telling colleagues it would “remove the stigma often associated with public assistance and welfare” and reflect the department’s range of services. A legislative committee is expected to take up the bill today.

Mackereth commented on the possible name changes after a half-hour presentation about the agency to the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania on Tuesday. She was named last month to head the agency following Gary Alexander’s departure.

She told commissioners her agency has “an enormous task, and no matter what we do, it’s never going to be good enough.”

She hesitated to take the job, which oversees a $28 billion budget, including $11 billion in state funds.

“When the governor’s office asks you to do something, or the governor, it is very hard to say no,” she said.

Mackereth, who served as a deputy secretary under Alexander, said Public Welfare is better because of his efforts.

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