Governor Ed Rendell is defending allocating 20 million dollars to projects named after Senator Arlen Specter and Congressman John Murtha.
Nearly every state department lost funding in this year’s budget, but an accompanying bond measure hands out 300 million dollars for construction projects across Pennsylvania.
That includes 10 million dollars for an Arlen Specter library at Philadelphia University, and the same amount for a John Murtha Policy Center in Johnstown. Murtha, the longest serving Congressman in Pennsylvania history, died in February. Specter, a 30 year member of the U.S. Senate, lost a primary election in May to Joe Sestak.
The two line items drew the ire of conservative lawmakers during weekend budget votes, but Rendell defends them.
"The Murtha project will help us in the long run because it’s technology. It’s going to be a technology center. The Specter library – it’s just a good construction project. It’s necessary. Philadelphia University, I know about it. I don’t live far from the campus. They could use an expansion and the Specter library will help them do just that."
Rendell points out the borrowed money can’t be used for operating expenses, so the 300 million dollars would not have restored any budget cuts. Still, critics point out that it is money the state is borrowing.
The bond measure was passed by both legislative chambers on Saturday, less than a day after its line items were made public.