Thursday, January 9, 2014

Peduto to Governor Corbett: Check it Out! Conservatism!

P-G, Robin Rombach

Pittsburgh is making fiscal sense.

Yes, that is a passing strange report to credit. But this is not just some rumored Sasquatch sighting.

Hang in there...

Mr. Peduto laid out a number of reasons that the city still needs Act 47. Standing in the Zone 3 police station in Allentown, he said the city needs a stronger long-term debt policy that would lay out exactly how much money the city could borrow in the next half-dozen years or so, and a better solution for its pension problems. 
He also believes the city can use Act 47 to negotiate voluntary payments from nonprofits, who own a significant amount of land in the city but pay little to no taxes. (P-G, Moriah Balingit)

And so on. See source material and elsewhere Trib.

First, the City needs to project its borrowing along the present course. Very simple.

With that knowledge, if we begin drawing that thick line on the big graph, and discover nonetheless within 3 or 4 years a habitual need for the big red marker -- even along our presently disciplined trajectory forged by bipartisan and disinterested state oversight -- then all of our headway and remarkable accomplishments will not have not been quite sufficient to achieve escape velocity.

To see Pennsylvania's second largest city crater, is generally to be avoided. Mayor Bill Peduto is alleging that the exit ramp for Pittsburgh from Act 47 Distressed Status needs a fair bit more work in the Budget-Balancing Department.

Therefore he suggests to the main arbiter in the general discussion, Governor Tom Corbett, a few items to fix the puzzle which require textbook Act 47 coordination:

  • Tweak Act 111 and Act 205 to address pension spiking
  • Fiddle with the public safety retirement age
  • Utilize state oversight officials as mediators with the super-nonprofits
  • Give the new Mayor time to implement more of what the State has already recommended to secure City finances

Then it's launch time, around as even more debt get retired in 2018.

In light of what has been forthcoming among a people whose very DNA resonates with the Constitutional right to collectively bargain with employers, this is a bafflingly conservative plan. Even the staff increase in public safety is in line with what the at-times Republican-dominated State overseers have been budgeting for years. It is time to go where that takes us.

P-G, Larry Roberts
"Conservative" does not even demand quotation marks. It is fiscally and conscientiously conservative -- though Mayor Peduto elsewhere in his "progressive" vision evinces progressively towering ambitions with with respect to collaborationinnovation and the application of grant monies.

Tom Corbett should be amenable to this strategy for that reason alone: as far as the State and the taxpayers are concerned, it is a conservative plan.

Tom Corbett should be amenable to this strategy for some more reasons: it makes sense, it wounds no parties unduly, it avoids debt spiral and colony collapse, and it could provide a blueprint for how disciplined Act 47 municipalities can turn the corner on red ink. Progress here could help stem the coming tide without a rash of futile court-mandated tax hikes.

Tom Corbett should be amenable to this for a final reason: the man has serious ties in Pittsburghvania. If he fumbles it, this it is a missed opportunity and a fair tragedy. If he moves it along and it works out nicely, this is a heck of a legacy builder come what may.

The dynamics are a little odd, with a Republican and a Democrat. Unfortunately.

Governor Corbett might be forgiven for thinking, "This sounds worthy of support, but if I stick my neck out and work on doing this right, will Peduto thank me? Will Pittsburgh thank me? This year?"

The Comet cannot answer that. We can however firmly resolve to thank him ourselves. We will thank him every bit as often as it needs being thanked for.

RELATED: Allegheny Institute. Disagree as to its favoring the ICA over Act 47; the former though a stern warden has its own redolent difficulties, meanwhile the latter is built better for creativity.


  1. Asking an anti-union Gov & congress to "reform" Act 111 at a time when republican controlled states are attacking union bargaining rights seems a bit reckless. It's like asking piranhas to only eat part of the cow.

    1. If the piranhas were capable of taking down the cow, would they even need to wait on some guy named Bill's suggestion? PA simply isn't Wisconsin, the only way the fangs will ever come out is in the face of some kind of bankruptcy. Which has its own drawbacks.

    2. I agree that with Corbett's approval rating he won't risk angering union workers and supporters. So, what's the point? Is he just putting out there his hopes for the state's dealings with Pgh?

    3. Good point, Anon 1:46. If Rob McCord, Katie McGinty or Alysson Schwartz come out in support, so much the better. It's a state issue in that strategies we employ get repeated.

      I have to figure cracking down on "pension spiking" plays well at the polls, no matter who you are. It sounds almost as bad as "racketeering".