Tuition Tax to go Unvoted Upon as Nonprofits Pledge to Do Something *

Details (not) emerging.

The University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and Highmark will make contributions, although they were unspecified. (P-G, Rich Lord)

Highmark? Huh? Duquesne Light?

*-ANALYSIS: Well, this is certainly not the kind of deal you’d want to take home to mom. The mayor agrees to shelve his Student Tax proposal, and in exchange the universities INSERT RHETORIC HERE. However, to the extent that Pittsburgh has now proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that it does not have six public officials that are willing to situate themselves inside a pit of live public relations scorpions along with what would otherwise be the rest of their city, this is a day for back-slaps and cigars all around.

17 thoughts on “Tuition Tax to go Unvoted Upon as Nonprofits Pledge to Do Something *

  1. Anonymous

    Hi guys,


    Do the Guards at the CCB employed by Am Guard get a raise, as a result of this legislation? Paid with tax dollars…

    I know the Guard at the CCB who was featured in the City Paper.

    He believes he is do a big raise or so SEIU lead him to believe…

    Will City do as City sez?


  2. n'at

    I'm very excited over this new plan to situate pittsburgh on a path to solvency. I am happy because everyone at the press briefing looked happy.

    This coalition of the willing evokes a magnanimous glow girdled with cheery tracers. Looking happy and projecting happiness – especially at Christmas time – is money in the pension fund.

  3. Skip

    A couple of things: 1) remember the discussion we were having a while back when the 'scratch my back and i'll scratch yours' UPMC /pittburgh promise deal? that created a lot of hoopla when UPMC's high powered lawyers tried to get the mayor to sign the agreement for the pittsburgh promise with the caveat that the city could not then seek to make UPMC pay anything taxwise in addition to their 'voluntary' donation? well, today we learn how that has come into fruition.

    “Mr. Ravenstahl said that UPMC is not “out of the equation,” but he has considered excusing them in light of their $10 million annual pledge to the Pittsburgh Promise of college aid to public school graduates.

    “Mr. Ravenstahl said that UPMC is not “out of the equation,” but he has considered excusing them in light of their $10 million annual pledge to the Pittsburgh Promise of college aid to public school graduates.”

    While UPMC didn't get a legally binding agreement, they did get a favor from the mayor. To me, the mayor prioritized a program that may or may not incentive folks to move back into the city by paying for their children's college – meanwhile, we do not enough to reduce our super high dropout rates. So, the mayor prevented a great opportunity for getting UPMC to pay THEIR fair share for owning the most non-taxable highly valuable city property that requires tons of city services. But pittsburgh promise has the mayor's face on it and UPMC takes care of him. Therefore, its a very old school way of doing business in this town.

  4. Skip

    2) From the PG coverage, you'd think that everyone is coughing up cash because of the mayor's pressure. However, a letter circulated to faculty and students at Chatham yesterday clearly states that this is NOT THE CASE.

    Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

    I am happy to forward to you the attachment from the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education (PCHE) announcing the conclusion of the tuition standoff with the Mayor’s office. (A copy of a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article covering the matter is also attached.) As ever, there is much more of a story to tell, and there will be many out there “spinning” the story to look good. But, let me just reassure you of the following:

    1). There has been no commitment made to a tax-like payment to the City, though there has been, as there always was, a continuing willingness to make voluntary monetary contributions to the City in unspecified and confidential amounts through a Public Service Fund.

    2). Higher education is no longer being singled out, but rather, the entire non-profit sector is being looked to, as it was in the past, for contributions to help the City in the cost of its operations. This was indicated today by the presence of Highmark, along with representatives of PCHE and the Allegheny Conference.

    There has been an extraordinary job of communication and leadership done over the last weeks by all the Pittsburgh campuses, and I must tell you how very proud I am to be part of this larger academic community that we call PCHE. I am also extremely proud of the Chatham community in which everyone—students, faculty, staff, and trustees—have spoken out very persuasively about how wrong headed the tax initiative was and have made clear their loyalty to their institution. Our students were very strong in the student leadership group, and, as you know, especially witty and effective in the work they did on the “virtual protest” not to mention the actual testimony and organizational work they undertook.

    Thank you, congratulations, and warm holiday greetings!

    Esther B.

  5. Mark Rauterkus

    So, Esther notes, this policy mission was really just academic homework, right? Students got to protest and be witty.

    Reminds me of the joke from a couple of months ago: Prediction: Luke will ask for a tax on all pre-schools in his 2011 budget address. He'll say the younger kids must learn their numbers and he's happy to help.

  6. briget

    and why is dowd such a nut job? huh? always playing both sides against the middle. he got fried politically on the tuition tax and prevailing wage bill. does dowd represent any constituency anymore?

  7. briget

    To Skip:
    “Mr. Ravenstahl said that…” and all of that in the PG hey, remember this Skip: Ravenstahl says what the “NEW JV” tells him to say. “Verbanec says this, and JV says that,” is what Luke should be sayin in the PG.

  8. EdHeath

    Skip, do you think that Esther B would send a letter to students, faculty, alumni and trustees that said “We caved under pressure”? Jared Cohen sent CMU people much the same letter. The one thing I will say is that it is clear how little leverage the Mayor has that Highmark, Pitt and CMU got away with pledging unknown amounts.

    Briget, I remember when Dowd ran, he was going to take the lead in bringing tranparency and reform to City government. He talked (in my living room in an early visit) about how much each Pittsburgher owes in City debt, the whole pension fund problem and so on. I honestly don't know what has happened to him on Council, and I would like to. Perhaps he has a harbinger of Obama, the seeming liberal who turns into a calculating pragmatist when elected.

    We should be so lucky.

  9. Truth

    Off Topic: Bram, I hope that you are you are enjoying the Holidays. I know that things are winding down here so I just want to let you know that I've enjoyed your work over the years. I wish there were more people like you that payed attention and cared about Pittsburgh's future. (w/out an agenda)

    I look forward to what you post in the next month or two and wish you well in whatever you decide to do. (Run for office?) All the best.

  10. Bram Reichbaum

    Oh Truthie, thanks a lot. You've been commenting out here since before I started blogging, correct? And so frequently informative and incisive, I've appreciated it many times. Even if some of my recent comments about “belt tightening” probably haven't gone over great with you, if I remember correctly. Anyway, I will be elaborating soon.

    Walko's seat is up for grabs in a special election — that's my neck of the woods. Think I stand a shot of earning the all-important party endorsmenation? 😉

  11. Anonymous

    Dowd is bringing about transparency, you just do not understand what is really going on. He is keeping his eye on what is best for the constituants and the area as a whole. He is trying more than the others to talk about the concerns. Did you not see council shut him down and stop him from talking, from asking questions? What is that about? There are real concerns with prevailing wage and he could not even ask the questions. Can you imagine if that would have happened to the other members, they would still be screaming. If his questions killed the bill, maybe it should have been held until January to put together a better more sustainable bill. I believe this bill is going to be challenged in court. Is it the mayor that is fearful of Dowd or is it council? Stop drinking the koolaid, get out from behind your computer and see what is REALLY going on!

  12. Bram Reichbaum

    I will say I was no fan of not discussing Dowd's ideas and amendments. I'm more skeptical than you Anon 10:16 of his motives — briefly, my hunch is it was far more ideological than legal — but I'd rather have seen a thorough discussion and seen them voted down than be given the old parliamentary steamroll.

    Why didn't Dowd explain his specific concerns to reporters? They were all asking him. But he spent all his time playing the victim and assailing his colleagues. Same story on the social networking sites. Figure he could have gotten the substance of his points across if it was that important.


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