Saturday, December 22, 2007

Promises, Promises

When I bought a house in Pittsburgh in August, I fully planned on penny-pinching and sending any future children to private school. After talking to some friendly folks at Penn Ave's Final Fridays and reading about the new program, the "Pittsburgh Promise," I had pretty much changed my mind. I was planning on giving the Pittsburgh Public schools a chance, largely thanks to UPMC's commitment. I know full well that this program is not going to single-handedly turn things around, but I also think that the city is headed in the right direction.

Unfortunately, our mayor, whom I generally support on the actual issues <*gasp*>, chose not to mention that UPMC wanted a promise in return that in the unlikely event that the state decides to tax non-profits, they wanted to make sure they wouldn't be required to pay us more than $10 Million per year. Did I mention that, if the unlikely event happened, UPMC would only be paying $8.3 million per year for property taxes, a nice hefty bonus of $1.7 million to the city of Pittsburgh, which currently only gets a contingent $1.5 million per year! These are big numbers, and they are real numbers, and it's important to not forget that.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Len Bodack says: "the scholarship program should be open to city children in private and parochial schools, not only those in the public schools..." if the tax credit applies to UPMC. I don't have to wonder if his kids are in private or parochial schools.
At least, I'm not the only one sick of his bullshit and happily he's out of office at the end of 2007. ( Where is his logic here?? My tax dollars don't currently support private schools. My tax dollars do currently support public schools. UPMC currently supports no schools. Their tax dollars (if they were created) would support public schools - just like mine.

How long have we gone without that tax collection from UPMC? Would a maximum of 10 more years without the money going directly into the city's coffers really outweigh having a viable school system. This program has done wonders for Kalamazoo, Michigan. Can we please give it a chance here?

To the naysayers, who claim that if we offer this deal to UPMC, we have to offer it to everybody who donates to the Pittsburgh Promise: I say, sure. Let's offer it to any non-profit who is not currently obligated to pay any taxes and who wants to commit to donating money to the city.

In the meantime, please skewer the mayor and his staff for not mentioning this earlier - this is a real problem and has jeopardized the start of this major program. More importantly, please realize how much this scholarship program is in jeopardy for 2008 and that it can be resolved if certain council-members can just get over themselves and work together.


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