Senators avoid controversy in Kathleen Kane budget hearing

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Instead of verbal jabs and fireworks, state Senators stayed on topic when Attorney General Kathleen Kane testified Thursday as part of their series of budget hearings.

Kane, who is currently acting as Attorney General with a suspended law license, and is facing impeachment in the state House, as well as a trial in August for a felony perjury charge, appeared in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee to ask for an addition $95 million dollars for her office for the 2016-17 fiscal year to go mostly towards hiring additional staff and creating more drug treatment centers to fight the state's heroin and opiate epidemic.

Two weeks ago, many of the Senators on the Appropriations Committee voted to remove Kane from office. The Senate's attempt ultimately failed, falling short of the two-thirds majority it needed.

However, on Thursday, the majority of Senators on the committee panel were not at Kane's hearing. Only 10 of the committee's 26 members were present for the start of the Thursday afternoon discussion, while only seven remained at its conclusion.

Senators never asked about Kane's past, current, or future legal or controversial issues, instead only asking questions in regards to the current financial state of the Attorney General's office.

"I wasn't surprised," Sen. John Wozniak (D-Cambria) said. "This was not the place for it. I thought for sure we would talk strictly about budgetary issues and the operaitons of (her) office."

Kane dodged most reporters' questions following the hearing, which lasted under an hour. She said she was not surprised by the Senators' cordial behavior, and added, "We were all here for the budget. We're here for what's best for the commonwealth. We demonstrated that today."

Kane is scheduled to appear Monday in front of the House Appropriations Committee for a similar budget discussion.