Why the capital budget process needs to be reformed

Here is a response I posted on GrassrootsPA to the defenders of the $13 billion in capital budget projects who state essentially “It isn’t that bad, because not all of the projects will be funded. Only later will we set the debt limit and decide which projects get the money”

  1. Many of those projects – in fact the entire RACP program – are not proper roles for state government. Yet only two Senators stood up and said “No. I cannot vote for a bill that authorizes any taxpayer funding (if available) to go to a soccer stadium, corporate welfare, et. al.”
  2. The RACP program is simply borrowing for corporate welfare. Do you really think that, after adding $8 billion to a “wish list” ($6.5 billion from RACP) the Senate will vote against increasing the debt limit to fund these projects, or will vote to eliminate the RACP program?
  3. A bill that actually mandated that money be spent would be better. By creating a “wish list” legislators have basically given Governor Rendell and leadership a list of how they can be bought off. Instead of requiring spending on a project decided by legislative debate, the capital budget allows Governor Rendell to spend or withhold funds in exchange for votes on other legislation, and gives him (and the leadership) far greater leverage in making deals.