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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: March 23, 2018 03:48 PM
From: Representative Fred Keller
To: All House members
Subject: Legislation to Undo the Governor's Borrowing Against the Farm Show
As a part of the FY 2017-18 budget, the Legislature authorized Governor Wolf to transfer $300 million from the state’s various special funds to the General Fund. Since the adoption of the fiscal code accompanying the FY2017-18 budget, the Governor instead chose to unilaterally enter into a long term loan of $200 million from Lancaster-based Blackford Ventures. We learned as a part of the budget hearings that this loan will cost taxpayers $191 million in interest over a 29-year period of time.

The deal allegedly involves the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and may (or may not) include a lease/lease-back agreement on the complex. Despite continued attempts to get answers on the specifics of the agreement, the Governor’s Budget Secretary refused to provide details during his budget hearing.

During that same hearing, I questioned the Budget Secretary on the Governor’s unilateral decision to borrow $200 million instead of transferring excess balances from existing special funds. The Budget Secretary testified that they made this decision, because the Legislature did not specify out of which funds the transfers should be made.

This legislation will clear up any confusion for the Governor and the Budget Secretary, by amending the fiscal code provision authorizing $300 million in fund transfers. It accomplishes this by listing existing special funds that either have existing balances or dedicated revenue streams for the Governor to choose from.

The legislation also declares the Governor’s lease/lease-back agreement a violation of Article VIII, Section 7 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, and requires that any funds received be returned to Blackford Ventures.

Lastly, the legislation requires that any remaining damages or guaranteed interest that the Governor agreed to be paid out of funds appropriated for the general government operations for the Office of the Governor, the Office of Administration and the Department of General Services.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as HB2525