Pa. lawmakers look beyond Harrisburg to financial troubles of other cities

    Gov. Tom Corbett has signed a law that will better equip a Pennsylvania program to deal with Harrisburg and other cities that fail to implement a fiscal recovery plan.

    But state lawmakers are looking for ways to fix the old law designed to help all of Pennsylvania’s financially troubled cities.

    Local government experts say more cities across the commonwealth will fall into fiscally dire straits and the state’s Act 47 program needs to change if it’s going to help.

    Rep. Chris Ross, a Chester County Republican, said one problem with Act 47 is that it can only prescribe plans.

    “There is no real force behind the idea of getting a financial rescue plan actually implemented–we have the ability to craft them, but how do we get them implemented, particularly when they’re politically difficult decisions?” he said.

    The law signed by the governor allows state intervention in a certain cities, including Harrisburg, that have entered Act 47 but haven’t acted.

    Ross said changes to the program should address two other things that render cities unable to support basic services–having too many tax-exempt properties and too few citizens.

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