Pickett Helps Advance Bill to Lower State Debt Ceiling
HARRISBURG – To help limit the amount of money that state government can borrow, Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna) this week cast her vote in support of legislation to make needed changes to the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) in Pennsylvania.

“Pennsylvanians expect us to be responsible with their hard-earned tax dollars, and the legislation we passed this week will put into place necessary safeguards, along with a series of checks and balances, to ensure that the borrowing undertaken for economic development projects is done with the utmost care and transparency,” said Pickett.

RACP provides grants to local communities for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic and historical improvement projects. The funding may be used for the design and construction of facilities that are economic development projects which generate substantial increases in employment, tax revenues or other measures of economic activity.

For nearly 15 years, RACP has reported numerous successes, with billions of dollars being injected into communities across Pennsylvania for valuable economic development projects. However, in recent years – when the debt level was increased from $1.45 billion in 2002 to $4.05 billion in 2010 – the way in which the funding was released led to increased scrutiny.

“With the increasing debt level, that financial burden is being placed on every taxpayer in this state,” Pickett noted. “As we have seen from recent events in Washington, D.C., people understand the type of long-term impacts this debt has, and I’m pleased that we have taken the necessary steps to rein in this debt level in Pennsylvania.”

As specified by House Bill 493, the limit on the RACP grant program will be immediately reduced from the current $4.05 billion to $3.45 billion. The bill does not eliminate the economic development grant program, but redefines it and makes it financially viable. In addition, new controls will be put in place to ensure the process is objective and ensures projects are chosen based upon merit, impact on economic development and level of public-private partnership, geographic disbursement and shovel readiness.

Finally, the legislation will create a new stringent review and approval process within the Office of the Budget. The Budget Office would develop eligibility criteria and establish guidelines for the process.

The legislation is now on the governor’s desk for his signature.

Representative Tina Pickett
110th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

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