Pennsylvania is the only state in the country that provides its lieutenant governor with a state-funded residence, and state senators have decided they’re ready for a change.
They’re moving a bill that would kick the lieutenant out for good, and give the building to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
The three-story, 2,400-square-foot house once served as the residence for the governor. It has been empty since January, when Democrat John Fetterman took office.
Fetterman said at the time that it felt wrong for a public servant to live in a taxpayer-funded mansion, and so he became the first lieutenant governor in recent memory not to move in.
He put the building to use over the summer, opening its pool to swimming lessons for children.
He said he doesn’t care how lawmakers want to arrange building management, but he thinks the pool should stay public.
“One thing I would absolutely insist on is that we need to have this remain open for the children, because it just worked out beautifully and a lot of the kids—like the Harrisburg school district for example—wouldn’t have had an opportunity to swim otherwise,” he said.
Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati is spearheading the mansion bill. He initially wanted to sell the building, but ran into issues with civilians being able to access the Fort Indiantown Gap military base it sits on.
The GOP caucus said by transferring it to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, the residence can be used for programs supporting veterans and the National Guard.
“Taxpayer dollars should not be used to simply maintain a building that no one lives in,” Scarnati said in a statement.