Given the tighter fiscal constraints in state government, the Office of the Budget announced Tuesday a redesigned Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, or RACP, that focuses on merit-based selection and projects that will create jobs.
Budget Secretary Charles Zogby announced the changes, which also included renaming the program to the Pennsylvania Economic Growth Initiative.
Under previous administrations, RACP spending had grown to a level of debt borrowing that had become unsustainable for the state and its taxpayers, growing from $400 million in 1986 to slightly more than $4 billion in 2010, Zogby said.
The reformatted program, which is administered by his office, will have a budget of $125 million per year.
“This newly improved program will allow us to retire old debt instead of saddling it onto our children,” Zogby said in a news release.
The new process will introduce regularity and dependability to the selection and release of program funds. Projects will be selected through an objective system that prioritizes large, regional economic development projects, as well as others promising the greatest financial benefit to Pennsylvania’s economy via job creation and retention.
The state also is looking for projects that maximize new tax revenue and demonstrate long-term sustainability, Zogby said.
In addition, “shovel-ready” projects — those set to begin construction in 365 days or fewer — will carry more weight, along with projects that leverage maximum private investment.