Apr. 11, 2019

HARRISBURG – Working to protect the interests of current and future generations of taxpayers, the House Finance Committee today approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Andrew Lewis (R-Dauphin) to lower the debt ceiling on a key redevelopment assistance program.

“The more the Commonwealth borrows, the more it costs our taxpayers to pay the money back…and that’s on top of what it costs to keep up with the day-to-day operations of government,” Lewis said. “Government must live within its means and the means of our taxpayers. Lowering the amount of debt we take on is a vital step toward achieving that goal.”

House Bill 880 would lower the debt ceiling for the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) by $100 million per year starting in 2022 until the ceiling drops to $2.65 billion in 2026. Lewis’ bill kicks in after a current debt reduction law expires in two years. The current law is reducing the ceiling by $50 million per year and will bring the ceiling down to $3.15 billion in 2021.

According to the Pennsylvania Treasury, the Commonwealth is spending $1.118 billion in the current fiscal year to finance its debt. The Wolf administration estimates that will rise to $1.185 billion in the 2019-20 fiscal year.

“While the goal of the RACP program is to invest in projects that generate substantial increases or at least maintain current levels of employment, tax revenues or other measures of economic activity, our taxpayers simply cannot afford to take on such a high level of debt,” Lewis said.

The lawmaker noted the debt ceiling for the RACP program increased from just $400 million in 1986 to a high of $4.05 billion in 2010. Since 2013, House Republicans have led the effort to reduce the debt ceiling to its current level of $3.25 billion.

The bill now goes to the full House for its consideration.

To watch Rep. Lewis discuss his bill with members of the Finance Committee, click here or in the video box below.

Representative Andrew Lewis
105th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Patricia A. Hippler
RepLewis.com / Facebook.com/RepAndrewLewis