Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Taxes, Little Taxes on the Hillside Made of Ticky-Tacky

And so it came to pass that the Council of the City of Pittsburgh postponed a motion on a proposed tuition tax, and there was must rejoicing.

Or something:

The 7-2 tally on a motion to postpone the first of two votes needed to enact the 1 percent tuition tax came after emotional, and sometimes personal, debate about how to best spur productive talks that might lead to voluntary donations, a group request to Harrisburg for new taxing powers, or both. The universities issued statements today that any "meaningful conversation is dependent on the removal of the tuition tax from further consideration," in the words of Mary Hines, chair of the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education board and president of Carlow University.
The funny thing, if there is such a thing, about this whole brouhaha is how fixed the conversation has been around the service fees/taxes/blood-from-a-stone from the universities. It's sort of amazing that the debate was fixed right at the beginning: the solution to solving this year's budgetary woes is in the universities. While there are certainly very good reasons to see these institutions as a significant potential revenue contributions, there are not really any other discussions going on outside of the box, to use an insipid phrase.

If council pushes through this tax (they will) and the universities follow through on their threat to sue (they will) and the courts rule in the universities favor (they could, but if nothing else they could draw out this process for years), the mayor and the majority on council is going to have to come up with another brilliant solution to the perpetual budget mess.

That being said, I don't think I trust those people to find the sky if they were lying face up in a field.

Of course, if I had my druthers, I'd use the opportunity to go back to the land/building tax split in order to encourage future revenue growth and economic development, but my druthers are in the shop this week.

Perhaps we could do a City wide bake sale?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

OR - the Universities could support extending the payroll tax to non-profits in lieu of a tuition tax, picking up UPMC and Highmark money.

Nothing like having a non-profit in your corner when going against a non-profit.