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PA Senate Battles Over Who Controls Economic Development Funds

A skirmish is unfolding in the final days of the state legislative session.

It's over an effort to change who approves state grants for economic development projects, so often touted by lawmakers.

Opponents call it a legislative power grab.

Senate Republicans have voted to put economic development spending in the hands of a little-known state authority with an abysmal record on transparency.

But, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa says the governor’s office should maintain control of which projects get funding.

"We believe that function is a function that should rest solely with the administration, the governor," Costa said.

Drew Crompton, chief counsel and spokesman for the GOP Senate president pro tem, said the Corbett administration doesn’t take lawmakers’ input on economic development projects.

"They ask us to submit lists, submit recommendations, and then they ignore all of them," he said.

The obscure agency that would get final say on state grants gives outsize influence to legislative appointees.

Gov. Tom Corbett opposes the measure, and many lawmakers say it may be stalled for the remaining few days of session.