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BackgroundEdit

  • PA politicians have a duty to pass budgets and they always seem to miss the deadlines.
TRIBUNE-REVIEW, July 1, 2006, HARRISBURG - The General Assembly on Friday failed its job spelled out in the state Constitution: passing a balanced budget by June 30. In a year when the Legislature is under a microscope because of the legislative pay raise fiasco, conventional wisdom held that lawmakers would, if nothing else, get the budget done on time. There are no penalties for blowing the deadline -- midnight Friday -- but some say it's a symbolic failure for the nation's largest full-time Legislature of 253 members.
    • The state budget has been late the past three years under Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, who has been at odds at times with the Republican-controlled Legislature.
    • The last budget approved by the June 30 deadline was in 2002 under Republican Gov. Mark Schweiker.

TalkingEdit

"We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity 
is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to 
lift himself up by the handle."
-- Winston Churchhill.
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. 
It can only exist until the voters discover that they can 
vote themselves largess from the public treasury. 
From that time on the majority always votes for the 
candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, 
with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, 
always followed by a dictatorship."
-- Alexander Fraser Tytler, 18th century Historian and Jurist

Shovel-logo3 Edit

Every Citizen Pays $8,690 Today for Pennsylvania Government. State and local government projected to cost family of four $41,453 by 2011.

BackgroundEdit

Pittsburgh's biggest problems are finance problems.Edit

Tom Flaherty, D, long time controller for the city of Pittsbugh, said that the future of the city is in doubt. He said, "The city as we know it isn't going to continue." P-G article, Flaherty: Pittsburgh financially crippled.

Pittsburgh's politicians need to overhaul their philosophy for dealing with finances. Edit

Fundamental economic reasoning and plain-old logic has been absent or else absurd on Grant Street in recent decades. Marked changes to the status quo are necessary. It is time to think again about Pittsburgh's finances. Let's think again about the people who are sent to Grant Street to be in charge of crafting the city's budgets.

Taxpayer burdenEdit

Compared to other municipalities in Allegheny County, Pittsburgh's local tax burden on residents is among the highest.

An analysis of the total local burden on residents in Pennsylvania's major metropolitan centers shows that Pittsburgh consistently ranks among the top three, along with Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre.

Tax burdens include school district taxes. The Pittsburgh school district imposes a higher millage rate than the city and doubles its earned income tax - 2% versus 1%.

Pittsburgh city government has no control over the school board, unlike Philadelphia.

On "Empty" Edit

The city is without a capital budget. The city is without bond funds to do projects. The engineering department had been using $25-million a year. The CDBG money in past years was more than in recent years.

Few of the projects in the pipeline are funded. Supplemental agreements exist for some work yet to come. Most are not. Money has been provided in the past for the design of federally funded projects. Not now. Some PA projects exist where the local match could not be obtained, so the city takes a pass on the project. It can't be done. In others, some funds might exist for some design work. However, the constuction bills are not able to be paid.

Walls, steps, and fences are falling into deeper disrepair.

Tighten the focus and scope on economic issues. Serious Edit

Template:Art-should-a

Much of what the city, state and federal government does exceeds the limited scope of what should be done. In most instances, the various branches of governement have become over-grown. Growth of government, ever-increasing budgets and higher taxes/fees make a burden for the economy. The burdens reduces employment opportunities.

Furthermore, much of what the city, state and federal government should be doing isn't being done. They have been working hard in the wrong areas and in the right areas, nothing is getting done. One crisis after another from healthcare to education to democracy to youth policy to taxation policy to transportation are being ignored.

Template:Art-trends People move away from burdens.

The largeness of governement puts people out of work.Edit

Millions of Americans who are willing and able to work are unemployed. Republicans and Democrats argue over band-aids such as extending unemployment benefits.

Government officials inflate the supply of money when they give special privileges to banks and large corporations. When government officials try to plan the economy, they cause cycles of boom and bust. These cycles misdirect investors, equity, and competition; they destroy healthy companies and markets.

The best cures for unemployment come with real jobs from a free market economy. The most effective places on earth for job creators are always associated with free, open and robust markets where American ingenuity can work its magic. Governments do not create wealth. Rather, private businesses do.

City government can't be the economic engine to drive the entire region.Edit

The City of Pittsburgh is a municipality, and little else, now. Edit

The city's borders are small in total land size next to the county and the region. In Philly, the city and county have the same borders, so Philly presents a much different landscape.

History

In the early 1990s, most of the people lived within the city limits. Now the city is half of its former self. New highways bring people to work in the city from farther distances. Many jobs have left the city for suburban office parks that were farmlands in the past.

The City of Pittsburgh, as a municipality, can't be the engine, but can be the brakes.Edit

The city's role in larger economic development projects has been over the top.Edit

The debt from Stadium and Exhibition Authority is split with 50-percent held by the county and 50-percent held by the city.

As a city resident, I own 100-percent of the debt as I am both a city resident and a county resident. However, I am certain that at any given event at Heinz Field or PNC Park more than 75% of the people are from beyond the city's limits.

Topics Edit

TaxesEdit

SpendingEdit

[[budget|Template:Art-budget]] for PittsburghEdit

  • I will never handle the budgets as Tom Murphy has done.

Budget Games Opposition Edit

In 2004Edit

The PG reported the city budget unity fractures as competing plans are introduced. "For a third year in a row, Murphy is trying to get state lawmakers to help him balance the budget with a bailout which sets tax rates and pays city salaries and other bills."

The budget is perhaps the most important duty for the mayor. His failures at every turn with the budget make him a worthless leader for our city.

In 2006Edit

New Mayor Bob O'Connor was to release budget revisions by the end of January. Former Mayor Tom Murphy's $418 million budget gets adjustments at the end of Feb, 2006.

John Murray, chairman of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, said a meeting he attended with O'Connor and city budget officials was "very productive," but it did not resolve a lingering problem since Murphy's tenure -- whether O'Connor will comply with the authority's request to raise the monthly health insurance contributions of 420 nonunion workers. Murray said the authority could vote on the revised budget within two weeks.
A $15 million 2005 surplus the city reported last week is an exaggeration, Murray said. Police overtime, new hires and outstanding bills will decrease that number, he said.

MAYOR RESPONDS TO BUDGET AMENDMENT PROPOSALEdit

January 12, 2004

Mayor Tom Murphy issued the following statement regarding Council’s decision to amend its budget:

“After careful line by line analysis of the budget document passed by City Council on New Year’s Eve, I think everyone now agrees that this budget, under the pressure of time, was not the careful document we need.

Without amendment, this budget would have compromised City government’s ability to ensure a high quality of service for our citizens. The budget as passed would prevent us from bringing back 24 excellent, young police officers. It would have forced us to close important neighborhood services like the Mellon Park Tennis Bubble and Oliver Bath House. And it would have forced us to lay off more than 100 new City workers, all doing critical work and many of whom are revenue producers.

I am pleased that a strong majority of Council has agreed to amend this document to ensure that we can restore those cuts. In light of this Council agreement, I will return Council’s budget without a veto, but also without my signature. I am confident that Council will act in good faith and complete the process of restoring our ability to provide quality services to our residents. While I do not warmly embrace the idea of further increases to our Parking Tax, I believe it is a short-term solution to restore the service cuts. If we are successful in our efforts to get the State to reform Pittsburgh’s badly outdated tax structure, I hope we can reduce the Parking Tax later this year.

But let me be clear, these important and necessary budget revisions notwithstanding, this remains a problematic budget for our City. While we still have too many people and too many stations in our Fire Bureau, the reality is that we cannot cut our way to solvency and we cannot afford to put any additional burden on the backs of our residents and small businesses. The only way to guarantee Pittsburgh’s long-term fiscal health and vitality is by broadening our tax base, to ensure that all users of City services are paying their fair share.

While we are still hopeful that the legislature will act to give us the tools we need to balance our budget, Pittsburghers can be assured that in the short-term we are working cooperatively to protect City services.”

Budget games Edit

Capital budget. Edit

The mayor, in past years, put many operational expenses into the capital budget. The capital budget did not reflect what it should have been. Then for 2005, the capital budget was eliminated. Money then moved back, $600,000 originally from the the finance department to the capital budget. Then $300,000 came back to the finance department in 2005.

2004 Budget Game ExampleEdit

Stenography's cost center misses mark.Edit

Council dips into law budget for stenography Mayor Tom Murphy and City Council reached a compromise that provides council's stenography services through the law department budget. Council wanted to pay for the services with $71,000 left over from 2004. But that plan was vetoed by the mayor, who believed the Act 47 recovery plan -- approved last year in an effort to correct Pittsburgh's financial problems -- does not permit spending a previous year's money on current needs.

Paying for a needed service this year with last year's funds is as goofy as paying for one department out of another's budget. The tangled web they weave is a big part of the problem.

Stenography is a function of the city clerk's office. The city clerk's office is elected. This cost center needs to be in the right department.

End the confusion. This is straight ahead common sense. The right fix isn't happening yet, compromise or otherwise.

A mayor should NOT hide the costs of one department in the operational expenses of another department. The crooked budget practices are not to be tolerated.

Qs: Edit

How much is Pittsburgh's annual budget?

  • The capital budget is $0.
  • The operations budget is less than $500-million.
  • The budget for 2005 is greater than the budget from 2004. So, despite the cutbacks, the city is still spending more money on an annual basis.

Does it start in January or is their fiscal year at a different time?

  • Presently, the budget is January to January. This is unlike the state and the federal periods.
  • Efforts are in the works in December 2004 to change the fiscal calendar year July 1. Perhaps this is another smoke screen? The city's budget impacts upon the school's budget too. So, one needs to change as the other changes. This change is quite a disruption.

Everyone helping with your campaign should know the size of the budget and the size of the defecit and the total Pittsburgh debt. If you wake them up at 4 am, they should be able to recite these three numbers.

  • Please, don't wake us up at 4 am. We are all with kids, jobs, lives to lead. But yes, the point is noted and understood.

Budget for Pennsylvania Edit

The 2003-2004 State BudgetEdit

The old joke goes: You know why it's called a budget? Because once it's set, you can't budge it. That's exactly what happened last summer-fall-into-winter. Our state budget, which was passed after the constitutionally set deadline had expired, called for the first income tax increase in 13 years, slashed funding for social services, and failed to provide the property tax relief Rendell promised to bring. Good job, Guv!

Open Understanding for the Cost of Management in Every DepartmentEdit

Pull management salaries out of the various departmental budgets and put the management salaries into their own containers within the budget. The cost of managing the city needs to be clearly visible and understood by all.

  • It might not be prudent to cut costs in such a way as to fire the workers and keep the managers.
  • When the police were cut in August 2003, many grumbled then that the police force was heavy in terms of management and senior officers.
  • The workers and budget in the automotive garage was slashed. The talk from many, including City Councilman Jim Motznik was that the workers were performing well but that management was not. Perhaps the management needed to be outsourced, not the workers.

Departments and MergersEdit

Debt Edit

Talking With the right public policies, we all work to bring prosperity back to Pittsburgh and its residents.Edit

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