Pa. GOP lawmakers seek power to review projects

    Pennsylvania House lawmakers are proposing reforms to a state economic development fund they say needs to be taken out of the dark ages.

    The Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, or R-ACP, helps bankroll things such as public improvement projects and maintenance for state-owned buildings.

    Approval comes from the governor’s budget office, and that wouldn’t change under the House Majority Leader’s proposal. But the GOP plan would require that lawmakers and the public have some advance notice when a local project is up for consideration.

    That’s something Rep. Mike Vereb, R-Montgomery, said is crucial.

    “If you represent an area and you’re a senator for an area, I think at the very least, you ought to have the ability to weigh in on a project, not have it made in a back room where all of a sudden its against the wishes of everyone in the neighborhoods, but it’s wanted by a few,” Vereb said.

    House Majority Leader Mike Turzai says the fund’s debt needs to be scaled back from its current $4 billion over the next 20 years.

    “We’re not going to not fund the projects that have been committed. They’ve been committed.

    We need to honor our obligations and our debts,” Turzai said. “And we’re going to continue the R-ACP program as well, because we do think if we get it back to where it was originally intended, then it can be a very successful program.”

    Turzai says he’s also proposing new standards for approving projects that get R-ACP funding that favor those who will create jobs.

    House Republicans say the legislation would also keep the governor’s office from approving projects during lame-duck sessions, before a governor-elect has been sworn in.

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