HARRISBURG - As lawmakers hurry to wrap up business before their holiday break, the Corbett administration issued a strong warning that failure to authorize $1.7 billion in new state borrowing could shut down thousands of construction projects across the state.
In a letter obtained Wednesday by the Associated Press, Budget Secretary Charles Zogby said a lack of cash threatened to idle work on highways and bridges, flood-control improvements, prison construction, and similar activities.
"Thousands of construction workers will be laid off and the economy will begin to suffer" if the bill is not approved by the House before its planned adjournment next week, Zogby wrote to Gordon Denlinger, vice chairman of the House Finance Committee.
The Senate unanimously approved the legislation in June.
The bill, known as the Capital Budget Act, usually is approved routinely, but a provision allocating $270 million to reimburse contractors and local governments for redevelopment projects has drawn scrutiny this year from House GOP leader Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny), who has suggested that tighter controls may be needed.
Turzai spokesman Steve Miskin said that his boss remains concerned about the level of borrowing and that House Republicans are expected to discuss the situation in a caucus meeting Wednesday.
"It's a lot of money," Miskin said.
Besides that money, distributed through the Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program, the bill would authorize borrowing $935 million for buildings and structures, $412 million for transportation and bridges, $10 million for furnishings and equipment for new construction, and $35 million for flood control.