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Pa. redevelopment grants may soon be endangered species

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Gov. Ed Rendell announced more than $40 million in state investments in rail and airport projects across Pennsylvania this week.

Those types of debt-funded grants will likely be few and far between under the next administration.

Rendell is a strong defender of using state grants to fund both public and private projects, saying Pennsylvania earns back the money it invests through tax revenue and new jobs.

Governor-elect Tom Corbett is much more hesitant to dole out borrowed money, as he explained during an October debate.

“I think it’s a very risky situation. We have increased our debt here in Pennsylvania. Particularly in a time when our budget is suffering,” said Corbett. “Our spending has increased in the same amount of time by 40 percent. Our revenues have come down.”

Corbett’s policy paper on transportation issues leaves the door open for what it calls “the prudent use of debt to fund projects.”

But he’s said he’d be very hesitant to finance private projects, like the retail developments and hotels funded in this year’s major capital development bill.

The so-called RACP, or Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program Funding, debt limit increased from $1.5 billion to $4 billion during the Rendell Administration.

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