Time constraints and disagreements over a preliminary proposal are almost certain to push Governor Corbett’s plan to consolidate state-level loan and grant programs to the fall. The administration still insists it would like to see the governor’s plan move with the budget but officials acknowledge time is likely now against them.
“Combining approval of the legislation with the budget [due June 30] is what we are still shooting for but it’s not an absolute requirement,” said Steve Kratz, Press Secretary for the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), which oversees the programs.
Moreover, lawmakers only recently saw a summary of the draft legislation that consolidates the 18 economic developments programs administered by DCED. One House Republican said that arriving at an agreement, which would require committee or floor amendments, would be a near impossibility before the end of the fiscal year on June 30
Even before seeing the draft some lawmakers from both parties objected to portions of the main plan outlined in the Governor’s budget address in early March.
The Governor’s plan would create the Liberty Financing Authority, putting the 18 programs into one pool. The Governor says the consolidation would make loan and grant money for businesses and local governments more available and the process more transparent.
One of the loan and grant vehicles swallowed up by the move would be the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA). Among other things, the CFA has awarded grant money to local governments for water and sewer projects funded by state bond money.
But the President of the Senate, Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, supports the CFA, according to a caucus spokesperson.
On another front, a summary of the legislation provided by DCED shows that changes will give the governor more power over the loan and grant process.
Under the draft, the Governor requires only one of eight legislative appointees to gain control over the process. Now, anyone of the four caucuses can block a move by the CFA, for instance.
Harrisburg insiders say lawmakers are almost certain to not surrender that authority