Pennsylvania Legislature Bill Targets ‘Zombie’ Cities

Pennsylvania lawmakers passed legislation that imposes timelines for communities to exit the state’s program for distressed cities.

The Pennsylvania House in a 134-61 vote today agreed with the Senate version of the bill, which had passed unanimously on Sept. 24. Jay Pagni, a spokesman for Governor Tom Corbett, said he would sign the bill.

Distressed municipalities must exit the state’s oversight program known as Act 47 within eight years or risk receivership or even dissolution. Scranton, which may sell its sewer system to bolster its pensions, and Pittsburgh are in the program along with 19 other communities. Fourteen have languished with the distressed label for more than a decade.

In place since 1987, Act 47 offers distressed cities grants and help in drafting recovery plans under state supervision. It doesn’t permit changes to existing labor contracts.

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