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Lehigh Valley Election News

Former state Sen. Pat Browne nominated to Shapiro administration

Pat Browne
Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro plans to nominate former Lehigh County Sen. Pat Browne as Secretary of Revenue.

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Former state Sen. Pat Browne, one of the Lehigh Valley's most powerful politicians in generations, has been named to serve as Pennsylvania's next Secretary of Revenue.

Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro, a Montgomery County Democrat, on Thursday morning announced his intention to nominate Browne, an Allentown Republican.

Browne did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

  • Pat Browne departed the state Legislature in December
  • He was a longtime chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee
  • A Republican, Browne was nominated by Democratic Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro

Browne has been a key cog in Pennsylvania's financial policies for years. He headed the commission that revamped the state's school funding formula, shifting additional funding to poor urban and rural communities. He also served for years as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, making him one of the most powerful figures in Harrisburg.

He used that clout to the benefit of his district, much of it through his signature legislation, the Neighborhood Improvement Zone. The special tax zone incentivized developers to invest in parts of Center City Allentown by allowing them to use state taxes and local earned income tax to pay off debts.

The pick was immediately lauded by members of the Lehigh Valley's statehouse delegation. Reps. Michael Schlossberg, Peter Schweyer and Josh Siegel, all Democrats representing portions of Allentown, praised Browne for his work and willingness to reach across the aisle to improve the lives of the region's residents.

"Gov.-elect Shapiro understands he needs to work with Republicans and Democrats to do the good work that will benefit us all," they said in a shared statement. "Selecting experienced and knowledgeable people like Pat Browne to lead a critical department shows a commitment to doing the difficult and important work we all were elected to do."

Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton, was also quick to praise the pick, saying he was beyond qualified for the position. The two often collaborated to secure funding or to advocate on the region’s behalf, and she said his bipartisan approach would be welcome.

“I have no doubt that he will lead the Department of Revenue in an exemplary fashion and be a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars,” she said in a statement.

Browne was defeated in last year's Republican primary by Jarrett Coleman, a former Parkland School Board director. Coleman, who went on to win the district in November, said he would not support the nomination, saying Browne voted for the 2013 gas tax hike and allowed the state to underfund its pension fund.

“I think the nomination of Pat Browne to this position indicates the governor-elect has no desire to depart from the policies that have put taxpayers in the Commonwealth last for the past couple of decades,” Coleman said.

Shapiro, Pennsylvania's outgoing attorney general and a former state representative, has so far nominated a bipartisan cabinet. Along with Browne, he intends to have Republican Al Schmidt, a former Philadelphia city commissioner, serve as secretary of state. President Joe Biden awarded Schmidt the Presidential Citizens Medal for his efforts defending the election results in Philadelphia following the 2020 elections.

Shapiro will be sworn in as governor on Tuesday. Once he formally makes his cabinet nominations, the candidates will need to be approved by Browne's former colleagues in the state Senate.

Browne is the first Lehigh Valley resident tapped to serve in a governor's cabinet since Don Cunningham was appointed Secretary of General Services under Gov. Ed Rendell in 2003.