House Committee Moves Capital Budget Reform Legislation
The House Finance Committee Monday reported out House Bill 2175 (Turzai-R-Allegheny) making changes to Capital Budget process and reducing the ability of state government to borrow and spend taxpayer dollars.
“The balance on the state’s credit card is too high,” Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Mifflin), Majority Chair of the Committee, said. “It’s time to pay down the debt and stop spending money that taxpayers don’t have.”
House Bill 2175 would reduce the debt ceiling of the Commonwealth’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Project (RACP), a program created to fund economic development and infrastructure projects using borrowed money.
In 1999, the program had a debt ceiling of approximately $1.2 billion. Since that time, approximately 8,000 projects have been added to the program’s list and the debt ceiling was raised to more than $4 billion.
The program has come under recurring scrutiny after funding was used to help build stadiums for professional sports teams and projects honoring former politicians. Millions of dollars were earmarked through the program to fund a library named after former U.S. Senator Arlen Specter and a public policy center named after former Congressman John Murtha.
“People are tired of seeing their hard-earned money used to pay for legacy projects for politicians,” Rep. Benninghoff said. “This program has gone far outside its original intent of providing help with legitimate economic development projects.”
The bill would reduce the RACP debt ceiling initially by a half-billion dollars to $3.5 billion and then continue to incrementally decrease the debt limit until it falls to $1.5 billion. The legislation also calls for stricter limits on the type of projects eligible to receive funding and would increase oversight of the program.
“We want to lower the credit limit on the state’s credit card,” Rep. Benninghoff said. “This would reduce the ability of state government to spend money that taxpayers don’t have.”
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