Another pricey taxpayer-assist

Another pricey taxpayer-assist

Here we go again: “The State” is conscripting your hard-earned money to transfer it to the very rich.

There ought to be a law. Oh, wait, there already is. But, yet again, our “leaders” believe they know better and the law does not apply to them.

Our pique is agitated anew on word, as the Post-Gazette headlined it on Tuesday, that the “State makes a big investment in North Side Ferris wheel, apartment, retail and marina development.”

But “The State” has no business once again turning taxpayers into venture capitalists. None.

As per the P-G:

“Piatt Companies has been awarded a $10 million state redevelopment assistance capital grant in the latest round of funding to help offset the cost of the ambitious Esplanade project, one that could hit $600 million at its full buildout.

“It is the second such state grant Piatt has received this year, following a $10 million award in April.”

And the P-G quotes Lucas Piatt, the company’s CEO, as saying the conscripted taxpayer dollars are “absolutely critical to making the project happen.”

Sorry, but if “The State” has to take a deep $20 million dive into the taxpayers’ pockets to make a private development happen, that private development should not happen.

But, but, but, the brace-snapping state interventionists are spitting about now, that $20 million will be used to, as the P-G also reports, “help fund infrastructure, roads, utilities, riverside and trail improvements, intermodal aspects, and park and open space.”

But if the Piatt project is creating a “demand” for such things, the Piatt project should be paying for such things.

And then there’s this: Why is that $20 million going to Piatt at all — if it’s supposedly paying for supposedly public infrastructure?

Do remember, class, money is fungible.

If this development is the latest in a long line of wondrous developments that will supposedly change life as we know it – gee, remember, as but one of many examples, The Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills mall in Frazer? – there’s absolutely no reason taxpayers should be molested.

Then there’s that pesky Pennsylvania Constitution:

“The credit of the Commonwealth shall not be pledged or loaned to any individual, company, corporation or association nor shall the Commonwealth become a joint owner or stockholder in any company, corporation or association.”

But, of course, that’s a niggling thing to worry about, right?

Piatt tells the P-G that beyond the state grants, the developer is raising equity for the project and has secured an equity partner. It’s also working on private debt financing.

After taxpayers have reduced his risk, his exposure, by $20 million.

“We feel really confident that we’ll be able to pull this off and we’re committed to making it happen,” Piatt told the P-G.

But only with a pricey taxpayer-assist.

“It’s about changing the skyline of Pittsburgh and the health of the city,” he adds.

Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania never learn.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).