Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett's budget boss has put the state on warning that he will be tightening oversight of a program long derided for spreading pork-barrel spending throughout the state.
The Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program, or R-Cap, became a rallying point for conservatives in 2010 when then candidate Tom Corbett ran a campaign ad highlighting a 10-million dollar R-Cap grant to build the Arlen Specter Library at Philadelphia University. Many have argued that the grants are driven more by politics than by an effort to create jobs and support communities.
"The process has been, I think, historically more of a black box, and so we're trying to shed some light on that," said Pennsylvania Budget Secretary Charles Zogby. "I think folks have had some legitimate questions as well in terms of the efficacy of the projects."
Reforming how R-Cap grants are approved is part of a larger effort by the administration to cut the state's capital budget.
"One thing is very clear in our review in capital over the past many months, and that is that the level of capital issuance that the commonwealth was doing from the prior administration was unsustainable," said Zogby.
The state House grudgingly approved a scaled down Capital Budget in its last week of voting before the holiday recess.
Zogby said that his office is planning to cut 50 percent of capital spending on public improvement projects, with priority given to spending on commonwealth-owned buildings.