Cabinet commuter: The Pa. welfare secretary should live in Pa.

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Uprooting a family and moving to a new city isn't easy, but people do it all the time because of job changes or other circumstances. Not state welfare secretary Gary Alexander.

Tom Corbett nominated him shortly after taking office as governor nearly two years ago, and Mr. Alexander arrived shortly thereafter, on the heels of a successful tenure as head of human services for the state of Rhode Island.

We're not questioning his professional credentials. His signature initiative was loosening federal regulatory oversight of Rhode Island's Medicaid program in a way credited with improving service and saving money.

We're not saying Pennsylvania should limit its job searches to state residents either. That would foolishly eliminate a vast pool of qualified candidates for many positions.

But anyone filling a top leadership role in the state should be a resident for the duration of that employment. Mr. Alexander remains a legal resident of Rhode Island, where his wife and two children live and where he visits often, at a considerable cost in dollars and time away from the state capital.

Pennsylvania Independent, a public interest journalism project, reported last week that in a 52-week period, Mr. Alexander made 29 trips from Rhode Island to Harrisburg, 14 from Harrisburg to Rhode Island and 44 treks in which Rhode Island was the start or end of a trip with a stop en route.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Corbett said Mr. Alexander pays his share for use of a state car and that he is performing the duties for which he was hired.

But a Cabinet secretary in charge of nearly 16,000 employees and a $10.5 billion budget -- the state's second largest by department -- should have a personal stake in Pennsylvania policies by being a taxpaying citizen and resident of the commonwealth. And Gov. Corbett should demand it.



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