Conservatives pile on about RCAP funding

As Doron mentioned yesterday, Gov. Ed Rendell has been getting a lot of criticism for supporting two projects honoring outgoing Sen. Arlen Specter and late Congressman Jack Murtha through state-subsidized loans via the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. Now, conservatives are attacking the entire program for being overly generous to Philadelphia.

According to the Pennsylvania Independent-- a conservative-leaning news outlet with close ties to the Commonwealth Foundation-- Philadelphia County will receive about a third of the $300 million designated for economic development loans in the 2010-11 budget. And that makes some people very angry.

“I myself have come to the conclusion that the RCAP program should be eliminated,” said House Minority Whip Mike Turzai (R – Allegheny). “Where the connection is for each of these projects [is hard to determine]. It’s really subject to the whims, political or otherwise, of the governor. That’s an inherent problem in this program.”

The Rendell Administration is pushing back against the charges of favoritism, pointing out that there are many other projects in the pipeline and that some of the decisions have yet to be made about where the money will go.

“Yes, the governor is from Philadelphia and yes, there are a lot of projects for Philadelphia [but] don’t forget that this is only one round of what will eventually be a $600 million commitment of projects, what you’re looking at here is only half for this round. Legislators will have input on what will happen to the other $300 million,” said Gary Tuma, press secretary for Mr. Rendell. “I would just point out that there are projects scattered throughout Pennsylvania. There are a lot more projects elsewhere than in Philadelphia.”

Of course, Democrats are hardly in synch when dealing with the issue. In fact, some legislative leaders seem very eager to disavow responsibility for the RCAP funding choices.

“These are not projects we picked; these are the governor’s projects,” said Johanna Pro, spokeswoman for House Appropriations Chair Rep. Dwight Evans (D – Philadelphia). “From a general perspective [the representative] is a strong supporter of the RCAP program.”

What do you think? Is Philadelphia getting an unfair amount of money from the state for RACP projects? If you live in Philadelphia or the surrounding suburbs, do you even care?

Follow us on Twitter and review city services on our sister site, City Howl.