York County House Republicans Vote to Send Debt Reform Measure to Governor’s Desk
HARRISBURG – Legislation passed today by the House that was strongly supported by York County’s House Republican delegation will continue the job creation and economic development projects generated by Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) while requiring more efficient use of taxpayer dollars. Members of the delegation include House Majority Whip Stan Saylor (R-Red Lion), Reps. Seth Grove (R-Dover), Keith Gillespie (R-Hellam), Ron Miller (R-Jacobus), Mike Regan (R-Dillsburg) and Will Tallman (R-Hanover).

The measure, House Bill 493, is aimed at bringing the debt accrued under RACP in line with the fiscal realities of today. Just as families must watch their spending as they pay off their credit cards, so too must the Commonwealth become serious about not incurring more debt just to make payments on that which we already owe.

“There is no doubt that the RACP program over its 13-year existence has been instrumental in helping spur economic development,” Saylor said. “But, its rapid expansion in that time – the debt ceiling has more than tripled from $1.2 billion to $4.05 billion – has made those kind of expenditures within the program unsustainable in today’s economic reality.”

As the House Republican Caucus examined the need for this reform it was apparent that oversight and review would be key components. Therefore, the bill requires the governor to submit legislation to the General Assembly that contains an itemized list of all capital projects at least once each legislative session.

The capital projects must be entered under specific categories and contain the following information:
   A specific description of the capital project, including the municipality in which the project is located.  
  The estimated cost of the project.  
  The funding source to be charged with the municipality’s repayment of the obligation. 
Applicants would need to apply to the Office of Budget to request an RACP grant and provide detailed information including detailed cost figures and a statement of financial necessity. The legislation also requires that at least one public informational meeting be conducted within 10 miles of the project.

Grove said the focus on greater transparency is essential as citizens are entitled to know how their tax money is being spent.

“The light of day and greater public knowledge are the keys to eliminating the mold of cynicism created by doing business as usual in Harrisburg,” Grove said. “People need to be able to easily access information detailing what RACP projects are being approved and the economic benefits they provide.”

Regan said that doing all we can to ease the financial burden we place on future generations is not only the fiscally responsible thing to do, it is a moral imperative.

“It is vital that we take action on the debt level in Pennsylvania because our future generations are depending on us to provide good management of our financial condition,” said Regan. “This bill is a much-needed step in the right direction.”

In an effort to prevent quickly pushing through projects by a lame-duck administration, the measure would prohibit approval of RACP projects between the general election and the date a new governor is sworn into office if the sitting governor is not re-elected either because of an election defeat or due to term limits.

Miller said the portion of the bill to prevent an outgoing administration from approving a flurry of last-minute RACP projects as political favors is a much-needed reform.

“With several thousand RACP items on the “wish list” – many of which have not been authorized – this measure establishes parameters under which the projects will have a shelf life and eventually lapse,” Miller said “This does not mean a project would have to start from scratch to receive future consideration, but it would have to be resubmitted under the new provisions in the legislation.”

House Bill 493 now heads to Gov. Tom Corbett’s desk to be signed into law.

York County House Republican Delegation
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Charles Lardner
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