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House passes legislation to reform state-funded grant program

Published March 13. 2012 05:01PM

While excessive debt and overspending is certainly not going to be solved overnight, Rept. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) endorsed legislation to reform an often-abused, but well intentioned state funded program, the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP). House Bill 2175 passed through the House by a bipartisan vote of 184-9, and heads to the Senate for consideration.

"Now is the time for the state government to rein in this often-abused state-funded grant program," Heffley said. "This commonsense, bipartisan legislation offers responsible restructuring to the program to ensure that it stays fiscally responsible and in-line with the state's economic goals."

The program was created in 1999 with an initial debt ceiling of $1.2 billion. However, the RACP debt ceiling has been raised six times since then, pushing it up to $4.05 billion.

"Although this program has funded some worthwhile projects in the Commonwealth, the program was abused in the past and funded programs such as the John P. Murtha Center of Public Policy and Arlen Specter library. It's not fair for our hard-working taxpayers to foot the bill for his type of reckless spending," said Heffley.

Measures of House Bill 2175 would put new controls in place to curtail mounting levels of public debt for projects funded by the program. This program uses borrowed money to find economic development projects approved by the governor.

This bill's provisions include public meeting requirements and more notification for RACP projects being considered for approval, and no project approvals between a gubernatorial election date and inauguration date.

If signed into law, House Bill 2175 would have immediate effects by reducing the RACP debt ceiling to $3.5 billion from its current level of $4.05 billion. The legislation does not eliminate the economic development grant program, but redefines the program and makes in financially viable.

For more information, visit Heffley's website at RepHeffley.com.

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