The house has passed a bill to reform a high profile economic development grant program by a 184-9 vote. The bill would lower the debt ceiling of the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Project program, add rules tied to economic activity and job creation and make the approval process more transparent.
Representative Bill Adolph (R-Del) was among the supporters. He says outstanding debt has increased by 4.3 billion since 2003-2004. He says the debt service requirements have increased by 50% over the same time period. Currently, the annual debt service for the program tops one billion dollars.
Representative Adolph says the reforms will focus funds on projects that will encourage economic development and create jobs in Pennsylvania, “truly a win-win situation.”
Representative Dwight Evans (D-Phila) argued that the bill really doesn’t do anything. He said it’s not needed, because the legislature only has to vote against raising the cap on borrowing for the program in the future.
Representative Mike Hanna (D-Centre) supported the legislation but questioned whether it would hamper the ability to improve the economy by cutting back on capital investments across the state. He says we should be doing everything we can to create jobs.
The bill heads to the Senate.