Let it be stated …
The group known as “Truth in Accounting” ranks Pittsburgh 67th in the nation among larger cities for its “fiscal health” and assigns it a grade of “D.”
“A new analysis of the latest available audited financial report found Pittsburgh has a taxpayer burden of $17,800 … for every city taxpayer,” the group said, citing 2017 data.
The group, whose stated mission is “To educate and empower citizens with understandable, reliable and transparent government financial information,” says Pittsburgh officials have made repeated financial decisions that have left the city with a debt burden of $1.9 billion … stem(ming) mostly from unfunded retirement obligations” including retiree health benefits.
Of course, this is the kind of thing that a city gets when a fraction of the fraction who are registered to vote maintains one-party rule for nearly a century and, by proxy, allows political machinations to masquerade as public policy.
The results – paced also by crumbling public infrastructure, a pitiful public-school system, stagnant or declining population and a paucity of meaningful job growth – have come home to roost.
Actions have consequences. So, too, do inactions.
A poll commissioned by the Pennsylvania State Education Association “shows, wait for it,” John Micek writes in The Pennsylvania Capital-Star, “broad support for Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposal to increase teachers’ base pay from the current $18,500 a year to $45,000 a year.”
Cue the laugh track; insert yuck-yucks and chortles here.
As Micek also adroitly reminds: “In polling, as in life, it’s safe to say you get what you pay for.”
The veteran editor who, for the record, supports a teacher pay raise, chides the union poll for not mentioning (in the poll question) that the average teacher salary in Pennsylvania is $67,535, well above the median income.
“(The) PSEA should have been more upfront in its questioning,” Micek writes. “Leaving out the average wage for all classroom teachers feels like putting an unneeded thumb on the scale.”
But never mind, as the Allegheny Institute noted (in Policy Brief Vol. 19, No. 10), that the 140 percent pay raise “would have expansive and expensive consequences for taxpayers.”
Namely, that involves placing upward pressure on all teacher wages.
From the email inbox, a refreshing note from an astute correspondent:
“I am a progressive Democrat engaged locally with my borough, school district and regional issues.
“I just finished reading today’s article on the sources of Pennsylvania public school funding and performance relationships (Policy Brief Vol. 19, No. 12). I have copies of all your articles on school/education as well as other articles on topics of interest to me. I will be sharing these with our candidates for school director positions.
“I may or may not agree with your policy comments. But I do appreciate and applaud that your work is based on your best analysis of data and facts. Your work is of help to all of us engaged in caring about government programs and their impact and our common good.”
Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (email@example.com).