Saturday, December 12, 2009

Insolvent By Design Part One: Pittsburgh Promise Problems

I hate to gloat, but one of the good things about the economic recession is it's blown sky high a lot of the convenient lies public figures have been telling us. As Warren Buffet said, when the tide goes out you learn who's been swimming naked.

Poor Luke, he's likely far from being our worst mayor, but the tide is out and more and more inconvenient truths about our budget are being revealed. Don't look to anyone else for help, like the county, state or feds, they're naked too.

The cash strapped city received a firm no from a coalition of almost all the colleges, to a "request" by the mayor for 5 million annually from non profits towards the city's general fund. The rejection letter contained this quote.

"a. When you solicited significant contributions to the Pittsburgh Promise from the non-profit community, you significantly diminished that community's capacity to support the City, a fact that you have acknowledged on other occasions."

Ever since the mayor announced the ambitious Pittsburgh Promise program, people have been wondering if there wasn't a wink agreement that contributions would replace tax payments to the city's general budget. It sure looks like that's what many non profit's thought.

The ironic thing is that the mayor needs the money, mostly to fill a massive hole in it's employee pension fund. In other words, we didn't have close to enough money to pay for our previous "promises", and yet Luke piled on some more.

The whole situation is IMHO, likely the product of a long chain of public policies that have worked to put more and more of Pittsburgh's land area in the hands of non tax paying uses.

How did this happen? It's a long story, many details of which I don't know but it sure as hell should be an area of study.

Be back with more thoughts.

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