prev next

Allegheny Institute

    Wed, January 10, 2018

    Wintry Renewal

    “The nakedness and asperity of the wintery world always fill the beholder with pensive and profound astonishment,” wrote 18th-century English essayist Samuel Johnson.

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, January 10, 2018

    Homestead Exclusion Remodel Faces Hurdles

    Homestead Exclusion Remodel Faces Major Hurdles

    (January 10, 2018)--Summary: A ballot question asking Pennsylvania voters to alter the existing constitutional language on the homestead ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, January 10, 2018

    Difficult Road for Homestead Exclusion

    The Pennsylvania electorate voted last fall to allow for a 100 percent homestead exemption. But numerous hurdles remain that will make drafting enabling legislation tedious and difficult, say ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, January 04, 2018

    The Problem with PA's Economy

    Pennsylvania’s economic growth has fallen quite short of the national rate over the last year. Particularly troubling is the vast difference in the growth �" or lack of �" in the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, January 04, 2018

    PA and USA: An Economic Comparison

    (January 4, 2018)--Summary: Overall, Pennsylvania’s economic growth has fallen short of the national pace over the past year. Particularly troubling is the vast difference in the growth (or lack ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, December 13, 2017

    City Cooperation Key to Fixing PWSA

    The roots of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority’s (PWSA) management and operational miasma are as deep as they are troubling. Which is a very sad commentary on the city’s elected and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, December 06, 2017

    Pittsburgh's Minimum Wage Obsession

    A Peduto administration plan to require companies receiving professional contracts valued at $100,000 or more (and paid entirely with city funds) to pay their workers a $15 hourly minimum wage raises ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, November 30, 2017

    Local Share Assessment Fix in New Gaming Law

    Summary: Act 42 of 2017 has a multitude of changes in store for the gaming landscape in Pennsylvaniaâ€"Internet gaming, fantasy sports, and additional casinos, to name a few. It also put forth ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, November 29, 2017

    What Gaming Law 'Fix' Means

    How will the Pennsylvania Legislature’s Act 42 of 2017 affect how and what money local governments receive from respective gambling casinos? Let us count the ways.

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, November 15, 2017

    A New Day at the ICA

    Pittsburgh’s oft-criticized and once investigated financial oversight board appears to have overcome its past difficulties and is operating in a much-improved fashion, say researchers at the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, November 09, 2017

    Is PA Economy Strengthening?

    (November 8, 2017)--Summary: In the shadow of this year’s budget crisis, the amount of total general fund revenues has quietly surpassed last year’s total both on a calendar and current fiscal ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, November 08, 2017

    Improving Economy Means Higher Tax Collections

    While there are signs that Pennsylvania’s overall economy might be improving, the critical question is whether it’s growing fast enough to cover some less-than-optimum actions by state government ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, November 01, 2017

    PA's Embarrassing Teacher Pay Gap

    While Pennsylvania public education advocates and teacher unions constantly complain about inequities in school funding and the need for ever more money, the president of the Allegheny Institute for ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, November 01, 2017

    Teacher Pay Varies Widely

    (November 1, 2017)--Summary: Teacher salary data from the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Professional Staff Summary report show very large pay differences among the commonwealth’s 500 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, October 26, 2017

    Equal Ed Funding Not Practicable

    (October 25, 2017)--Summary: For some time groups calling for more state education funding have complained that the state’s share of funding is low compared to other states and that Pennsylvania ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 25, 2017

    Funding PA's Public Schools

    Some of those advocating for the “equalization” of local and state public education funding in Pennsylvania might want to be careful what they wish for, say scholars at the Allegheny Institute ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 18, 2017

    'Anemic' Defines Greater Pittsburgh's Economy

    There are few reasons to boast about the economy of Greater Pittsburgh, the president of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy says. In fact, the statistics are strikingly anemic.

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, October 12, 2017

    Supreme Court Orders Hearing of School Funding Suit

    (October 11, 2017)--Summary: A decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in William Penn School District v. Pennsylvania Department of Education held that claims by petitioners must be heard. The ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 11, 2017

    Reforming Public School Funding

    Should Pennsylvania increase its level of funding for public school districts so that less wealthy districts with low property values are on par with high property wealth districts?

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 04, 2017

    Is $1.1 Billion Pittsburgh Airport Upgrade Justified?

    There are myriad economic unknowns that raise serious questions about the efficacy of spending $1.1 billion to reconfigure Pittsburgh International Airport, say scholars at the Allegheny Institute ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 04, 2017

    Analysis of Pittsburgh Airport Upgrade

    (October 4, 2017)--Summary: The Allegheny County Airport Authority has announced plans to reconfigure the terminal system at Pittsburgh International Airport. The estimated cost is $1.1 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, September 27, 2017

    Report on PA State System Schools Falls Short

    A management consultant’s study on how to rescue the badly flagging Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education itself is fraught with deficiencies that fail to address the system’s core ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, September 27, 2017

    Shortcomings in State University System Report

    (September 27, 2017)--Summary: On July 27, the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) released its report on the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). The ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, September 20, 2017

    PA Credit Rating Cut

    Standard ~Poor’s on Wednesday lowered Pennsylvania’s bond rating to A-plus, a drop from AA-minus, taking it to the third-lowest rating of all states except Illinois and New Jersey.

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, September 18, 2017

    PA's Destructive Budget Machinations

    Oh, what a tangled and fiscally risky web is woven when tax dollars meant to be spent on one thing are diverted to other things, scholars at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy say.

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, September 18, 2017

    PA's Transportation Funding Ironies

    (September 18, 2017)--Summary: In July an Allegheny Institute blog pointed out the irony and poor public policy arrangement of using a tax on wholesale gasoline to provide funding for building ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, September 07, 2017

    House Members Offer Balanced Budget Proposal

    At the end of June Pennsylvania's 2017-2018 budget became law. It was unbalanced and there wasn't a plan in place for how to pay for it. A significant part of the problem was that the Governor and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, September 06, 2017

    Severance Tax No Panacea for Budget Woes

    Pennsylvania legislators looking to impose higher taxes on shale gas extraction under the guise of substantively closing the commonwealth’s multibillion-dollar budget shortfall should look ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, September 06, 2017

    Senate Passes Severance Tax for Unconventional Well Gas

    Senate Passes Severance Tax for Unconventional Well Gas

    (September 6, 2017)--Summary: The Senate has inserted a severance tax into their revenue bill (HB 542) to help shrink the size of ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, August 31, 2017

    Comparative Look at PA Economic Performance

    Summary: After holding its own and even enjoying a handful of years with better than national economic performance during the last recession and early recovery from the deep downturn that began in ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, August 30, 2017

    Unflattering Pattern for PA Economy

    Pennsylvania’s economy has returned to its usual, but hardly flattering, pattern of lagging behind the national growth rate, a scholar at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy says.

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, August 23, 2017

    Behind Shale Gas Impact Fee Slide

    The five-year-old impact fee on shale gas wells in Pennsylvania has done what it was intended to do, researchers at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy say. That would be to not only benefit ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, August 18, 2017

    Stadium Authority Extension Bad Public Policy

    The rationale for extending the life of the Pittsburgh Stadium Authority does not even rise to the level of flimsy, researchers at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy argue.

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, August 16, 2017

    The Stadium Authority That Will Not Go Away

    (August 16, 2017)--Summary: The Stadium Authority, which should have gone out of business with the demolition of Three Rivers Stadium, continues to exist. And now it plans to extend its life to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, August 11, 2017

    Pesky Issues Dog Port Authority

    Recent developments regarding the Port Authority of Allegheny County put the mass-transit agency’s management and operations in a very unbecoming light, say scholars at the Allegheny Institute for ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, August 09, 2017

    Port Authority Faces Pesky Issues

    (August 9, 2017)--Summary: A CEO search, a second delay of cashless fares, a performance review, and updated light rail statistics are in the news for the Port Authority. Some of the recent news ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, August 02, 2017

    Hazards in School Loan Forgiveness Plan

    A Pittsburgh City Council entreaty to the commonwealth to create a statewide program that would retire a portion or all of a person’s outstanding college loans when they buy a home is fraught with ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, July 31, 2017

    PA Senate's Budget Farce

    More than half a billion dollars in new taxes, including a double nose-thumbing to one of the commonwealth’s leading economic growth engines and, not to forget, a most dubious borrowing ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, July 26, 2017

    No Budget Agreement, But Spending Continues

    (July 26, 2017)--Summary: In not too surprising news, the general fund budget for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was not approved by the start of the Fiscal Year 2017-18 (FY 17-18) on July 1st. A ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, July 24, 2017

    State Takeover of Pittsburgh Water and Sewer?

    Summary: The plight of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has caught the attention of the Pennsylvania Legislature. The State House has unanimously passed a bill which would place the PWSA ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, July 12, 2017

    Analyzing PA's Pension Reforms

    (July 12, 2017)--Summary: Recent legislation changes the pension benefits for new hires of the two statewide pension systems beginning in 2019. The legislation will include three options for new ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 28, 2017

    Analysis of SW PA Turnpike 'Extensions'

    (June 28, 2017)--Summary: An earlier Policy Brief found the case for building the Turnpike extension from Route 51 to I-376 in Monroeville to be unpersuasive. Analysis of additional, updated ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 21, 2017

    Snapshot of Gas Prices in PA and OH

    (June 21, 2017)--Summary: In light of the recent request to reverse the flow of transport fuels along the western half of the Laurel Pipeline, a question arose: are gasoline prices in Pennsylvania ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 14, 2017

    Pittsburgh Police Residency

    (June 14, 2017)--Summary: The state’s highest court has overturned a lower court ruling on a 2014 arbitration award regarding a requirement that police be residents of the City. As a result of the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 07, 2017

    Would Reversing Laurel Pipeline Benefit Western PA?

    (June 7, 2017)--Summary: A recent request by the owner of the Laurel Pipeline, which brings gasoline and other fuels from east to west across Pennsylvania, to reverse the flow from PA's western edge ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, May 24, 2017

    Pittsburgh Loses Court Cases

    (May 24, 2017)--Summary: On May 17th, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania affirmed the December 2015 Allegheny County Common Pleas Court ruling that the City of Pittsburgh did not have the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, May 17, 2017

    The Economic Impact of Opioid Abuse

    The Economic Impact of Opioid Abuse Locally

    (May 17, 2017)--Summary: The scourge of drug overdose deaths has hit Allegheny County hard with 414 deaths in 2015. Of those an estimated ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, May 10, 2017

    Pittsburgh Public School Try Again

    (May 10, 2017)--Summary: So many plans and so little to show for them. That has been the sad and long running story of Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) over the last several decades. Overall student ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, May 03, 2017

    Jobs and State Tax Revenue Tied

    (May 3, 2017)--Summary: In a recent Policy Brief, we discussed the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion's spring business climate survey and noted how it struck a more optimistic tone compared to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, April 26, 2017

    Can DCED Recover Money From Bankrupt Company?

    (April 26, 2017)--Summary: Aquion, a recipient of state tax incentives by promising to create hundreds of new jobs, recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Comments from the state's Department of ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, April 17, 2017

    Mon-Fayette Expressway on Hold Again

    Summary: Lack of key political support and inadequate economic benefit analysis of the proposed extension of the Mon Fayette Expressway to Monroeville have caused the project to be put on hold ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, April 05, 2017

    Reassessment Brings Washington County Tax Values Up to Date

    (April 5, 2017)--Summary: Washington County's reassessment–the first since the 1980s–has gone into effect with updated values and adjusted millage rates for the County and its ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 29, 2017

    Alco Hotels Want Take Hike to Fund Tourism

    Summary: Legislation to increase the Allegheny County hotel tax from its current 7 percent rate has been introduced in the General Assembly. The legislation describes distribution of the revenue and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 22, 2017

    Pittsburgh Authority Problems Mount

    PWSA Infrastructure Problems are Getting Worse

    (March 22, 2017)--Summary: The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) has a host of problems that will require large amounts of ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 15, 2017

    State University System: Problems and Possibilities

    (March 15, 2017)--Summary: The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) faces a number of acutely serious problems that have prompted the system's Chancellor to begin a thorough review ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 08, 2017

    Wilkinsburg School Update

    (March 8, 2017)--Summary: The agreement to send middle and high school students from the Wilkinsburg School District to Pittsburgh Public Schools is almost through its first year, and we examine ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 01, 2017

    Tax Appeals Result in Increase of Taxable Values

    (March 1, 2017)--Summary: Allegheny County property owners and taxing bodies filed 7,143 assessment appeals in 2016. The net change in assessed values (pre-appeal to post-appeal) was $19.1 million ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, February 27, 2017

    Wolf Proposes Severance Tax Again

    Summary: The Governor's third budget address did not ask for increases in personal income or sales taxes to patch over the State's budget deficit, but he did trot out an old favorite of his–the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, February 15, 2017

    AlCO's Certified Property Values for 2017

    (February 15, 2017)--Summary: Allegheny County's property values in 2017 stand at $100.7 billion, with $77.7 billion being taxable and $22.9 billion exempt from taxation–a ratio of $3.39 in ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, February 09, 2017

    Cost 'Savings' Didn't Lower Expenditures

    (February 9, 2017)--Summary: Major cost cutting should translate into lower taxes or at least remove the need for an increase. That has not happened with the Governor's "savings ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, February 08, 2017

    Wolf Budget Wrong RX for PA

    It was contrarian economist Murray Rothbard who famously quipped that while deficits always are pernicious, "curing them by raising taxes is equivalent to curing an illness by shooting the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, February 07, 2017

    Sluggish Economy Creates State Budget Problem

    (February 7, 2017)--Summary: Three months ago (see Policy Brief Vol. 16, No. 47) we called attention to the slowdown in statewide employment since March of 2016. Data since indicates the slowdown ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, February 01, 2017

    Time to Rein in Municipal Regulations on Business

    (February 1, 2017)--Summary: Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have enacted regulations on businesses that should not be permitted by state law. Because of Philadelphia's exemption from the law that ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, January 25, 2017

    Gaming Revenues Slight Rise in Perspective

    Gaming Revenue's Slight 2016 Rise in Perspective

    (January 25, 2017)--Summary: News reports of the recently released 2016 gaming revenue in the Commonwealth noted that it was a record ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, January 19, 2017

    Pittsburgh School District Hammered in Latest Report

    (January 19, 2017)--Summary: A recently released report by the Council of the Great City Schools gives Pittsburgh schools extremely low marks in nearly every aspect of school operations, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, January 17, 2017

    Surveying the Pension Landscape in Allegheny County

    (January 17, 2017)--Summary: The biennial Status Report on local pensions in Pennsylvania was recently released, and we take a look at the 304 plans in Allegheny County.

    By virtue ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, January 11, 2017

    Pirates Threaten Legal Action

    Summary: The Pittsburgh Pirates baseball club is threatening legal action over the Sports and Exhibition Authority's reluctance to grant the team's request for ballpark repairs and upgrades. The ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, January 04, 2017

    A Year of Cheer for PAT?

    Summary: The Port Authority's change to fare structure in 2017 will be a huge undertaking with potential problems and costs. The Authority has experienced a series of other important changes in ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, December 29, 2016

    Right to Work and the Recent Election

    At the time of the presidential election in November there were 26 states with a right to work (RTW) law in place. Three states had recently joined the RTW ranks in the years since the 2012 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, December 21, 2016

    Here is Why We Should Ban Teacher Strikes in PA

    What a deal.

    When Pennsylvania teachers go on strike -- that is, refuse to work because they disagree with the terms of their employment -- they do not lose a day's ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, December 19, 2016

    Deeper Implications of the Ambridge Teacher Strike

    (December 19, 2016)--Summary: Yet another Pennsylvania school district is in the midst of a teacher strike with the walkout leaving parents and students to suffer the consequences. It is past time ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, December 14, 2016

    At What Cost?

    (December 14, 2016)--Summary: The announcement of two new international airlines beginning service at Pittsburgh International Airport in 2017 has been applauded by local officials and the media. ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, December 07, 2016

    A Hard Look at Pittsburgh School Budget

    (December 7, 2016)-- Summary: For several years the Pittsburgh Public Schools has had total outlays near or above $20,000 per student, ranking it among the highest spending districts in the state. ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, December 01, 2016

    PA Must Fix Casino Problem

    Article VIII, Section 1, of the the Pennsylvania Constitution is clear:

    "All taxes shall be uniform, upon the same class of subjects, within the territorial ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, November 30, 2016

    What Will Revised Casino Host Fee Look Like?

    (November 30, 2016)--Summary: The State Supreme Court struck down part of Pennsylvania's 2004 slot machine law that outlined required payments to be made by casinos to their host counties and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, November 21, 2016

    ALCo Employment Exhibits No Net Growth

    Allegheny County Employment Exhibits No Net Growth Between 1990 and 2015

    (November 21, 2016)--Summary: The 25 year period from 1990 to 2015 saw overall anemic employment growth for ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, November 16, 2016

    Should Council and Executive Get Retroactive Pay Increases?

    (November 16, 2016)--Summary: Allegheny County Council has introduced legislation to boost their compensation and that of the County Executive, and to make provisions for automatic increases in the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, November 10, 2016

    Pittsburgh Reduces Role of Market Economics

    (November 10, 2016)--Summary: On October 11th, Pittsburgh's Mayor announced his intention to revise dramatically the City's process for approving publically subsidized development projects. In ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, November 02, 2016

    State Jobs and Revenue Gains Weak

    (November 2, 2016)--Summary: The State's fiscal situation is closely tied to its economic growth. As the economy grows jobs, tax receipts from firms and individuals grow. This Policy Brief looks ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 26, 2016

    Obstacles to Education Reform

    (October 26, 2016)--Summary: A state Supreme Court case in which plaintiffs seek a change in school funding and a legislative proposal that would eliminate school property taxes converge and provide ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 19, 2016

    Symphony Orchestra Travails Come to Pittsburgh

    Summary: The attendance and financial difficulties that have plagued orchestras across the country have not exempted Pittsburgh. This Policy Brief points out the deep seated gap between costs and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 12, 2016

    Fact Checking Property Tax Claims

    (October 12, 2016)--Summary: It is the nature of politics that politicians make statements that need to be examined because they often omit items that need to be taken into account or that ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 05, 2016

    Recent Weakness in Jobs and Earnings in Pittsburgh MSA

    (October 5, 2016)--Of late, the news regarding the Pittsburgh region's labor market statistics has not been encouraging. Following the 2011 rebound to the 2008 prerecession peak of 1,120,000 private ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, September 27, 2016

    City of Pittsburgh Labor Stats

    Synopsis: The last 25 years have been largely a period of stagnation or slight decline for the City of Pittsburgh's labor force, residents working and the number of jobs in the City. To be sure there ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, September 20, 2016

    Another Harsh Lesson About TIFs for Retail

    (September 20, 2016)--In the late 1990s and early 2000s, tax increment financing (TIF) became an oft-used financing scheme for local governments to use on development projects they wished to pursue. ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, September 15, 2016

    ALCO: Long Term Changes

    Since January 1, 2000, Allegheny County has operated under an Executive-Council form of government adopted as a result of voter approval of a home rule charter in 1998. Prior to that, the County was ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, September 06, 2016

    A Back to School Quiz

    (September 6, 2016)--In anticipation of another year of learning and testing for the kids, we thought it might be a bit of fun as well as interesting for grownups to take a quiz on their knowledge of ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, September 01, 2016

    PA Gaming Revenue: Interesting Patterns

    In earlier Policy Briefs we analyzed the growth in gross terminal revenues (GTR) for slot machines in Pennsylvania and how it has fluctuated from year to year. Within the Commonwealth there are ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, August 24, 2016

    Alco Assessments: Trouble Looming?

    property taxes(August 24, 2016)--Last week the Allegheny County Executive announced via a newspaper story that there will not be another reassessment. Another reassessment being a reference to the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, August 15, 2016

    Pittsburgh and Benchmark City Comparisons: 2016

    (August 15, 2016)--Beginning in 2004 and in three year intervals since, the Allegheny Institute has produced reports examining the principal financial statistics for the City of Pittsburgh and a ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, August 10, 2016

    Municipalities' Share of RAD Tax Revenue

    (August 10, 2016)--In 1994 Allegheny County imposed a one percent local sales tax allowed under 1993's Act 77, the legislation creating the Allegheny Regional Asset District. Act 77 mandates that 25 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, August 04, 2016

    Cities Ranking: Flawed, Misleading

    (August 4, 2016)-An organization called WalletHub recently released, to some local fanfare, a report ranking 150 U.S. cities on how well they are run. Pittsburgh was one of the cities included in the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, August 02, 2016

    School Taxes Up in Alco

    (August 2, 2016)--Taxpayers in 23 of Allegheny County's 43 school districts will be paying higher real estate taxes in the 2016-17 school year. With the exception of the Pittsburgh Public School ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, July 19, 2016

    Why is RAD Still Funding PAT?

    (July 19, 2016)--The Port Authority's (PAT) fiscal year ended June 30th. The same day, the four year contract between PAT and its largest union also ended. That contract began July 1, 2012.

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, July 14, 2016

    Shale Gas Fee Collections Drop Sharply

    Marcellus Shale(July 13, 2016)--Act 13 of 2012 imposed an impact fee on any company drilling an unconventional well into the state's shale formations. The Act set up a graduated fee schedule based on ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, July 07, 2016

    PA General Fund Revenue Growth Slows Dramatically

    (July 7, 2016)--As Pennsylvania's government works to put together a budget for Fiscal Year 2016-17 (FY 16-17) an unwelcome and very worrisome slowdown in the growth of General Fund revenues has ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, June 28, 2016

    Housing Task Force Punts on Appeals Policy

    (June 28, 2016)--Earlier this year the City of Pittsburgh withdrew over 1,000 appeals of property values that it planned to appeal for being too low. In announcing the decision, an April 18th press ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, June 21, 2016

    Online Gaming? Not Worth Pursuing

    (June 21, 2016)--Recently the Pennsylvania House of Representatives'
    Committee on Gaming Oversight considered a bill to allow internet
    gaming in the Commonwealth. While the idea of ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, June 20, 2016

    PAT Looks at Fare Changes

    At its April meeting, the Port Authority (PAT) board of directors voted to overhaul the fare policy for the mass transit system, effective January 1, 2017. Zone pricing will be gone and in its place ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 08, 2016

    A Snap Shot of Recent Light Rail Statistics

    (June 8, 2016)--The Port Authority (PAT) will introduce important changes in January 2017 related to its fares. These changes will have a significant impact on all modes of transportation, including ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, June 02, 2016

    Pittsburgh's Dramatic Population Changes

    (June 2, 2016)--Pittsburgh's population has undergone remarkable changes since 2000 including a nearly ten percent drop in resident count. It is important to note however that the rate of decline ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 26, 2016

    Riverfront Zoning Proposal Much Improved

    (May 26, 2016)--Back in March, our Policy Brief, Volume 16, Number 10
    noted that the City Planning Commission was in the process of
    preparing new zoning regulations for property along the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 19, 2016

    A Jobs Tale of Two PA Cities

    To say that the employment picture between 2001 and 2015 has been interesting and volatile would be a woeful understatement. Nonetheless it is true whether one is referring to jobs growth in the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 12, 2016

    Bringing Fiscal Discipline to Pittsburgh

    The Mayor Offers a Good Idea: Some Suggested Improvements

    (May 12, 2016)--From the Office of the Mayor of Pittsburgh comes a proposed ordinance that aims to bring greater fiscal ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, May 09, 2016

    Who is Watching the Watchers?

    Who is Watching the Watchers?

    (May 9, 2016)--Three weeks ago, we reported on the abject failure of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (ICA) to comply with the financial reporting ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, May 03, 2016

    Gaming Revenues Rose in 2015

    (May 3, 2016)--Combined Gross Terminal Revenues (GTR) for Pennsylvania's slot parlors came in at $2.366 billion in 2015, edging the 2014 total by about two percent. While this ends a two-year skid ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, April 21, 2016

    ICA Reports Not Filed

    Talk about a turbulent couple of months. First, the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (ICA or oversight board) for Cities of the Second Class, i.e., Pittsburgh, saw the appointment of three ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, April 14, 2016

    Another School Strike in PA

    (April 14, 2016)--With the just initiated Highlands School District strike, Pennsylvania continues to cling tenaciously to its title of teacher strike capital of the United States. For many years the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, April 07, 2016

    More Successful Assessment Appeals

    More Successful Assessment Appeals by Taxing Bodies in 2015

    (April 7, 2016)--Last year, 7,796 appeals were heard in Allegheny County involving over $2 billion in residential and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, March 31, 2016

    Revisions Wipe Out Pittsburgh Job Gains

    (March 30, 2016)--Every month the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics release details about the previous month's employment totals for the Pittsburgh ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, March 22, 2016

    Alco: Property Tax Update

    (March 22, 2016)--In April of 2012 (see Policy Brief Volume 12, Number 20) we documented the work of a General Assembly appointed task force whose job was to either, (1) develop a statistical measure ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 16, 2016

    Passenger Count Up at Pittsburgh Airport

    (March 16, 2016)--When the Allegheny County Airport Authority Board hired their new Airport Authority CEO in January 2015, there were high expectations regarding Pittsburgh International Airport ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, March 07, 2016

    PA Budget Enters Bizarro World

    "The state budget process can be divided into four phases: gubernatorial preparation and submission to the General Assembly, approval (involving the executive and legislative branches), ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 02, 2016

    Proposed Zoning Changes Could Harm Navigable Rivers

    (March 2, 2016)--In December 2015 the Mayor's office issued a press
    release promoting a change to the zoning laws regarding riverfront
    development within City borders. The claim made in ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, February 23, 2016

    Reality in Education Funding Would be Helpful

    (February 23, 2016)--Recently the Governor visited the Clairton School District's elementary school to continue his push for a much greater level of education funding. He took the time to chide the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, February 17, 2016

    A Ridiculous Waste of Taxpayer Money

    At a time when the Governor is complaining bitterly about the looming state deficit and after he has line item vetoed about half the General Assembly's budget for schools, the Department of Education ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, February 11, 2016

    Jobs Report Short on Reliability

    (February 11, 2016)--The December jobs report for the Pittsburgh metro area was just released. At first glance, the report on balance seems quite positive. Data from the household survey show a ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, February 09, 2016

    Alco Certified Property Values

    (February 9, 2016)--Three years after the reassessment in Allegheny
    County property values in 2016 stand at $99.8 billion, with $76.7
    billion being taxable and $23.1 billion exempt from ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, January 26, 2016

    Pittsburgh Schools' Insolvency Postponed

    (January 26, 2016)--Oftentimes audits bring bad news. In the case of Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) in recent years their budget forecasts have been presenting a precarious financial picture while ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, January 19, 2016

    Do Rankings Provide True Picture of Business Climate?

    (January 19, 2016)--In December 2015, the Kauffman Foundation released their annual Index of Main Street Entrepreneurship (IMSE) that looks at the number of established small businesses as well as ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, January 12, 2016

    Stadium Authority Report Needs Clarification

    (January 12, 2016)--In mid-December of last year, the City Controller released results of a study showing that over a five-year period, 2009 through 2013 inclusive, properties (and entities using ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, January 05, 2016

    Guiding Principles and Policy Perscriptions

    (January 5, 2016)--2015 marked the 20th anniversary of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy's founding. Over the past two decades, we worked tirelessly to promote the ideas of free enterprise, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, December 17, 2015

    Dear Santa

    (December 17, 2015)--We wrap up our 20th anniversary year with our fifth and final Golden Oldie. In 2001, we wrote to Santa Claus and gave him a list of some of the naughty and nice things that ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, December 09, 2015

    Shine Light on Sports and Exhibition Authority

    (December 9, 2015)--On November 5th the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County ruled that the Allegheny County Controller does not have the power to audit four Authorities related to Allegheny ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, December 08, 2015

    Senate Budget Charts an Unsustainable Course

    On Monday, December 7th, the Pennsylvania Senate passed two significant pieces of legislation. The first was a budget that grew spending at 6 percent, well over the rate of inflation plus population ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, December 04, 2015

    A Solution to the ICA-City Squabble

    (December 4, 2015)--Three years ago, in November of 2012, Pittsburgh's Act 47 recovery team recommended to the state department that oversees it (Community and Economic Development, or DCED) that it ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, December 01, 2015

    Impact of New State Education Funding Formula

    (December 1, 2015)--When the Basic Education Funding Commission held its first meeting in August of 2014 to begin work on its charge of devising a new formula for dividing up state funding for basic ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, November 24, 2015

    Teacher Strikes - Again

    (November 24, 2015)--Next week students in the Peters Township School District are expected to be back in class following a teacher strike that began at the end of October. Under state law, there is ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, November 20, 2015

    Pittsburgh Mayor Orders Wage Hikes

    (November 20, 2015)--Recently Pittsburgh's Mayor issued an Executive Order to raise the minimum wage paid to all City workers to $15 per hour. According to the Mayor's news release, it will cover ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, November 10, 2015

    Time to Revamp PA's School Performance Profile

    (November 10, 2015)--A Policy Brief from January (Volume 15, Number 3) laid out the case that the School Performance Profiles (SPP) produced by the Pennsylvania Department of Education are misleading ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, November 04, 2015

    Is Internet Gaming a Good Bet for PA?

    (November 4, 2015)--Pennsylvania's budget for fiscal 2015-2016 is now more than four months overdue. The stalemate is focused on the Governor's desire to raise taxes on income, and Marcellus Shale ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, October 26, 2015

    Budget Impasse Not Halting State Government

    (October 26, 2015)--While it appears November will appear before a Governor signed state budget does, a large share of the Commonwealth's government operations are going along as if there was no ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, October 20, 2015

    Common Core Tests Create Challenging Results

    (October 20, 2015)--The results of the 2015 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) exams have been released and they are causing quite a commotion. The exams, given to students in grades ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, October 13, 2015

    Preventing Tax Rate Increases in PA

    (October 13, 2015)--In a growing economy with taxes levied on sales, income, and the value of real property, not to mention special levies such as business privilege taxes and fees for government ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 07, 2015

    Gaming Money for Economic Development

    (October 7, 2015)--Two years ago we produced a report on gaming money that had flowed into Allegheny County, a $700 million total that consisted of money for school property tax relief via homestead ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, September 29, 2015

    Wilkinsburg Sends Students to Pittsburgh

    (September 29, 2015)--The latest talk from the Pittsburgh and Wilkinsburg school districts indicates a tentative agreement has been reached that would send students in grades 7 to 12 from Wilkinsburg ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, September 22, 2015

    More Education Funding: The Real Story

    (September 22, 2015)--This month the Campaign for Fair Education Funding released the report "Lifting all Students: Why Pennsylvania Must Act Now to Fairly Fund Public Education and Secure our ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, September 15, 2015

    PA Jobs Report: Caution Advised

    (September 15, 2015)--A few weeks ago the Department of Labor and Industry released July employment data for the state. According to the report, Pennsylvania had added 66,500 non-farm jobs between ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, September 09, 2015

    Reassessments Roll Out in Western PA Counties

    (September 9, 2015)--In the next year and a half, three counties in the western half of Pennsylvania will be reassessing all real property for the first time in a very long time. The last time for ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, September 02, 2015

    Is a 'Family Wage' in Pittsburgh's Future?

    (September 2, 2015)--Pittsburgh has seen its fair share of mandated wage proposals over the years from the minimum wage to the prevailing wage and even the living wage. Then too, the City recently ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, August 26, 2015

    Pittsburgh Parking Taxes

    (August 26, 2015)--"While the City cannot change the parking tax levy–it is fixed at 37.5 percent by Commonwealth law–the [Public Parking Authority] could change the rates at ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, August 20, 2015

    Wilkinsburg Education: Looking for Answers

    (August 20, 2015)--The worst ranked Pennsylvania school district that offers K-12 education is back in the news. Wilkinsburg School District made it known a few months ago that they are ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, July 24, 2015

    Pittsburgh's Sick Leave Bill

    (July 24, 2015)--After decades of implementing legislation in Pittsburgh that is anti-free market and anti-business, now comes another assault in the form of mandatory paid sick leave. What is so ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, July 22, 2015

    Municipal Spending in Allegheny County

    (July 22, 2015)--Recently the Allegheny Institute released its annual report on municipal spending in Allegheny County (Report 15-03). This year, the data has been updated by looking at 2013 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, July 16, 2015

    Will School Takeover Process Work?

    (July 16, 2015)--In late June, buried in the fight over the budget and liquor store privatization, a bill cleared the Pennsylvania Senate that would create a statewide school district called the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, July 08, 2015

    Allegheny County Assessment Appeals

    (July 8, 2015)--Earlier this year we wrote about the 2014 appeals of assessed values heard by Allegheny County's Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review. That Brief (Volume 15, Number 12) ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, June 29, 2015

    Education Funding Distraction Part 2

    (June 29, 2015)--As was noted last week in Part I of this Policy Brief, absenteeism is a serious problem in many poorly performing Pennsylvania districts. Part II offers explanation and statistics to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, June 25, 2015

    Education Funding Commission a Distraction

    (June 25, 2015)--What is the most pressing problem with public education in Pennsylvania? According to the teachers' unions, the Governor, the education establishment, and their allies in the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, June 18, 2015

    Pittsburgh Region Ranks Low in Business Startups

    (June 18, 2015)--In past Policy Briefs and blogs we have commented on reports ranking the Pittsburgh area by one measure or another. In the case of the annual air quality ranking (Policy Brief ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 10, 2015

    Golden Oldie: School Funding

    (June 10, 2015)--As we noted last week, the Institute will be reprising some older Policy Briefs for the remainder of this year–about one per month. We hope to demonstrate the persistent, long ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 28, 2015

    Evaluating House Property Tax Bill

    (May 28, 2015)--Since April of last year we have analyzed and reported on three separate proposals to provide taxpayer relief for school property taxes including the one that was part of the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, May 20, 2015

    Pittsburgh Job Counts Revised

    For the second year in a row the Department of Labor
    and Industry has made downward benchmark revisions to the
    establishment payroll employment data for the Pittsburgh region,
    altering ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, May 13, 2015

    Wilkinsburg: Poster Child for Failure of PA Education System

    (May 13, 2015)--Last November the superintendent of the Wilkinsburg School District was complaining that poor education performance was closely tied to a lack of resources (see Policy Brief, Volume ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, May 06, 2015

    Latest Bogus Allegheny County Air Quality Report

    (May 6, 2015)--Right on schedule, the American Lung Association is out with its annual report on air pollution in the EPA's Pittsburgh attainment region that includes several counties in Southwest ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, April 21, 2015

    Privatization Could Reduce PAT Costs

    (April 21, 2015)--In our previous Policy Brief we examined the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's (PENNDOT) report on whether consolidation of mass transit agencies in southwestern ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, March 31, 2015

    Another Punitive Wrinkle to Severance Tax

    (March 31, 2015)--In his first budget address the newly inaugurated Governor carried through with his promise to go for a severance tax on Marcellus Shale gas production. He has proposed a five ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, March 17, 2015

    Governor's Budget Proposal Non-Starter

    (March 17, 2015)--The budget proposed for fiscal year 2015-16 is facing a lot of skepticism as being too aggressive, too far reaching and ill-considered. In short, it ought to be viewed as a ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, March 12, 2015

    Unbundling the Governor's Tax Shift Proposals

    (March 12, 2015)--How would the state budget proposal, specifically the concept of a tax shift from property to sales and incomes, affect a typical person in Allegheny County? It will depend on how ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, March 03, 2015

    Assessment Appeals Push Taxable Value Higher

    (March 3, 2015)--In 2014 there were 10,226 appeals of property values heard by the Allegheny County Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review. All together, the pre-hearing assessed ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, February 26, 2015

    PA Union Membership: What Is It Telling Us?

    (February 26, 2015)--Pennsylvania's overall union membership as a
    percentage of employment held steady at 12.7 percent in 2014,
    unchanged from 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, February 17, 2015

    Marcellus Impact Fee Benefits Western PA

    (February 17, 2015)--Act 13 of 2012 set an impact fee on drillers for each unconventional well started (spud) into the Marcellus Shale formation within the Commonwealth's borders. Act 13 sets the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, January 29, 2015

    Gaming Revenues Still Slumping

    (January 29, 2015)--In early January, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board reported the final tally of gross revenue from slot machine gaming for 2014 at $2.319 billion. This amount is about 2.7 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, January 12, 2015

    Fuel Tax Increase Greets Motorists

    (January 12, 2015)--When the transportation bill, Act 89 of 2013, was signed by the Governor it ushered in a series of increases to wholesale gasoline and diesel taxes, some or most of which of would ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, January 07, 2015

    Any Changes to Local Pensions?

    (January 7, 2015)--There is a strong likelihood that pension reform will be a significant topic in Harrisburg this coming year, but it is clear that if pensions are to be discussed the focus will be ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, December 22, 2014

    Allegheny Institute: 2014 Year in Review

    (December 22, 2014)--As 2014 draws to a close, we wish our Policy Brief readers a healthy and prosperous 2015.

    This year saw developments in several critical issues the Allegheny ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, November 25, 2014

    Is Pittsburgh Airport Traffic Taking Off?

    (November 25, 2014)--Recently Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) shared news with the media regarding passenger counts and flights. The headline was that for the fifth consecutive month in 2014 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, November 21, 2014

    More Nonsense about School Funding and Academics

    (November 21, 2014)--A recent newspaper story about the recently released School Performance Profiles contains the following quote from the acting superintendent of the Wilkinsburg School District: ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, November 19, 2014

    Allegheny County Becomes a 'Cab Lab'

    (November 19, 2014)--At long last, common sense has prevailed at the Public Utility Commission (PUC). They have granted an experimental license to Uber, the alternative to cab service, to operate in ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, November 06, 2014

    PA's Higher Education System Woes

    (November 6, 2014)--When the Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education's (PASSHE) board of governors met in early October, the hottest topic was state funding, or more specifically, how it has ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 29, 2014

    Taxation Without Representation?

    (October 29, 2014)--The General Assembly has approved changes to Act 47, the statute written to help municipalities that become fiscally distressed. Part of the overhaul is language allowing ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 22, 2014

    Searching for a Problem to Solve

    (October 22, 2014)--Business leaders, government officials and educationists are pushing for fair and equitable funding for Pennsylvania schools. Ironically, one of the attendees and speakers at a ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 15, 2014

    A Look at Proposed 2015 Pittsburgh Budget

    (October 15, 2014)--The City's 2015 operating budget and five year financial forecast were submitted to the oversight board on September 22nd. The 2015 budget shows $512.6 million in revenue, $505.9 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 08, 2014

    Redeveloping the Lower Hill

    (October 8, 2014)--Late in the summer, the Mayor of Pittsburgh announced that he wanted to establish the largest ever Tax Increment Financing district (TIF) in the City of Pittsburgh's history. The ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, October 03, 2014

    Downtown Development and Prevailing Wage

    (October 3, 2014)--Upon handing $4 million to a Downtown Pittsburgh construction project, Pennsylvania's Governor was quoted in a newspaper article as saying, "It's going to make a huge ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, September 30, 2014

    Pittsburgh Magnet Schools: How Are They Doing?

    (September 30, 2014)--The superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) recently reported on the 2014 results on the state achievement tests taken by City school students saying she was grateful ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, September 25, 2014

    Do Public Meetings Need More Sunshine?

    (September 25, 2014)--In mid-September, the Allegheny Institute was invited to testify to the PA House Committee on State Government on proposed changes to Pennsylvania's Open Meetings Law, or, as it ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, September 18, 2014

    How Are PA's Big City Pensions Faring?

    (September 18, 2014)--In 2009, the Allegheny Institute released a report examining the pension systems in Pennsylvania's ten largest cities based on population. Since municipalities administer their ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, September 02, 2014

    Will Tax for Distressed Municipalities Bypass Pittsburgh?

    Will Tax for Distressed Municipalities Bypass Pittsburgh?

    (September 2, 2014)--The General Assembly is debating changes to the municipal financial distress statute, Act 47 of 1987. It ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, August 27, 2014

    Have Slots Revenue Hit the Jackpot?

    (August 27, 2014)--In early August, the Rivers Casino celebrated its fifth anniversary. Before opening on August 9, 2009, the casino's owner at the time projected they would earn $427.8 million in ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, August 22, 2014

    Talk of Another School Merger

    (August 22, 2014)--In Ta Policy Brief late last year (Volume 13,
    Number 48) we reviewed the school district merger between Center Area
    and Monaca in Beaver County. Those districts merged ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, August 20, 2014

    Overtime DeJa Vu at PAT

    (August 20, 2014)--October 2006: An article in a Pittsburgh newspaper
    revealed the top earners at the Port Authority (PAT) and noted that
    in addition to the salaries for top administrators, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, August 13, 2014

    Land Banks: What Are They?

    (August 13, 2014)--There is a new type of bank in town, but instead of operating in the world of deposits, withdrawals and making loans, it deals with property–specifically, dilapidated, worn ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, August 05, 2014

    Pittsburgh Region Fares Poorly in Business Climate Survey

    (August 5, 2014)--A detailed and fairly extensive survey of small businesses across the nation carried out by a research and business services firm, in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffmann ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, July 30, 2014

    Pittsburgh Parking Rates Going Up

    Parking Rates Will Increase This Week
    (July 30, 2014)--Large hikes in the price to park at the Pittsburgh Parking Authority's garages and lots go into effect August 1. The higher rates will ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, July 28, 2014

    Privatizing Garbage Deserves Another Look

    (July 28, 2014)--As city governments across the nation battle budget issues, the notion of privatizing some services is once again making its way to the fore. Detroit, which is in bankruptcy, agreed ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, July 16, 2014

    Leisure and Hospitality Job Gains

    (July 16, 2014)--Over the last two years (May 2012 to May 2014) the Leisure and Hospitality (LH) sector in the Pittsburgh region posted a jump of 10,300 jobs to stand at 125,800 in May of this year. ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, July 10, 2014

    Is the Public Well Served by the PUC?

    (July 10, 2014)--July 2014 appears to be shaping up as the critical month in the development of ridesharing in Pittsburgh. Since July 1st we have seen two separate cease and desist orders from ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, June 26, 2014

    Potential Impact of Parking Rate Hike Plan

    (June 26, 2014)--How big of a role has the City's parking system and the parking tax it collects played in the City's tussle with longstanding financial issues and what will be the impact going ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, June 23, 2014

    State Budget Facing More Troubles

    (June 23, 2014)--The last few months have seen warnings about a revenue shortfall in the current budget year that ends June 30 as well as a forecast $1.4 billion deficit for fiscal year 2014-15. ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 18, 2014

    Police Residency Requirements: A Survey

    (June 18, 2014)--In 2012, the General Assembly passed and the Governor signed legislation that became Act 195. Prior to the Act, Pittsburgh police officers had to become residents of the City as a ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, June 12, 2014

    Pittsburgh Faces Major Budget Problem

    (June 12, 2014)--A year ago the Institute published an updated report on its Benchmark City comparison with Pittsburgh. That report served as a reminder that Pittsburgh still has a long way to go to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 04, 2014

    Is Taxpayer Relief Act Working?

    Has Act 1 Generated Taxpayer Relief?

    (June 4, 2014)--The product of a special session of the General Assembly, Act 1 of 2006–the Taxpayer Relief Act–focuses on the largest ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 15, 2014

    Measuring PAT's Light Rail Performance

    (May 14, 2014)--Two years ago (see Policy Brief Volume 12, Number 17) we outlined the key data for the Port Authority's (PAT) light rail system as it existed in Fiscal Year 2010-11 (FY11) prior to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 08, 2014

    PA Business Not Optimistic

    (May 5, 2014)--Recently the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research released its annual Spring Keystone Business Climate Survey. Over 360 business executives from all corners of the Commonwealth ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 08, 2014

    Minimum Wage Side Show

    (May 8, 2014)--Much like the magician whose stock in trade is misdirection so the audience does not see what he is really up to, the current political push for higher minimum wages is largely aimed ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 01, 2014

    More Disappointing Pittsburgh Labor Data News

    (May 1, 2014)--A month ago, the Department of Labor and Industry released a stunningly negative report showing huge downward adjustments to establishment payroll jobs for 2013–revisions that ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, April 10, 2014

    What Happened to Pittsburgh Job Strength?

    (April 10, 2014)--The Department of Labor and Industry recently released preliminary employment data for February. Unfortunately, the latest numbers for the Pittsburgh metro area are not very good, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, April 02, 2014

    The Problem of School Absenteeism

    (April 2, 2014)--Many studies showing the negative effect of absenteeism on academic achievement have been carried out over the last 40 years. Ideas to reduce chronic absenteeism and truancy have ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, March 27, 2014

    Lessons from Pittsburgh Cab-Rideshare Battle

    (March 27, 2014)--Will ridesharing–the transportation model in which prospective riders arrange for trips via smartphone on prepaid accounts with drivers who operate their own ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, March 24, 2014

    Mt. Lebanon Property Assessments

    (March 24, 2014)--Talk about déjŕ vu: the municipal government in Mt. Lebanon is appealing the assessed values of recently sold homes for which the sales price was well above the assessed value ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, March 20, 2014

    Shocking Revisions to Pittsburg Employment Numbers

    (March 20, 2014)--Jobs numbers released on March 18th that incorporated a data re-benchmarking by the Department of Labor and Industry and the Bureau of Labor Statistics paint a dramatically ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, March 18, 2014

    Marcellus Impact Fee: What's Happening?

    (March 18, 2014)--Act 13 of 2012 imposed an impact fee on natural gas wells in the Marcellus Shale reserve lying beneath the Commonwealth. The levied fee is based on the price of natural gas as ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, March 11, 2014

    ACT 88 Impact on Port Authority

    (March 11, 2014)--Last November, the long awaited and hotly debated transportation bill, now referred to as Act 89, was passed. There is enough information now available to lay out with some ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, March 04, 2014

    Is State Education Funding Unfair?

    (March 4, 2014)--Near the end of January, at a public appearance in Harrisburg, the Governor announced that he wanted to alter the way the state funds public education. He stated "let's get a ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, February 25, 2014

    An Education Proposal for Pittsburgh

    (February 25, 2014)--Back in 2007, Mayor Peduto's predecessor, along with the Superintendent of Pittsburgh schools and the head of UPMC, worked to put together the Pittsburgh Promise program, wherein ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, February 18, 2014

    Pittsburgh International Still Struggling

    (February 18, 2014)--Pittsburgh International Airport's (PIT) struggles to grow passenger counts and flights have been well chronicled in past Policy Briefs. One obvious culprit has been the high ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, February 05, 2014

    Transportation Bill Brings Change

    (February 5, 2014)--Act 89 of 2013, otherwise known as the transportation bill, contained major changes that will affect Pennsylvania motorists and taxpayers in the form of higher taxes, fees, and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, January 31, 2014

    PAT's Coming Windfall

    (January 31, 2014)--The long sought after special "funding" stream has become reality for the Port Authority (PAT). A funding stream that had been was lobbied for by a number of groups in ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, January 29, 2014

    Has Mt. Lebanon TIF Saga Ended?

    (January 29, 2014)--For more than a decade developers have been attempting to develop a prime piece of real estate on the corner of Bower Hill Road and Washington Road in Mt. Lebanon. The parcel, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, January 17, 2014

    Static Over TV Program Funding

    When the state legalized casino gaming and decided to dedicate a portion of the taxes to help fund economic development, specifically designated funds were allocated to Allegheny County and the City ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, January 13, 2014

    Another Year, Another Hike in Turnpike Tolls

    (January 13, 2014)--Another year and another toll increase for users of Pennsylvania's Turnpike system. For the sixth consecutive year, tolls will rise for travelers paying with cash (E-Z Pass fares ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, January 08, 2014

    Who is Right Regarding Pittsburgh's Distressed Status?

    (January 8, 2014)--Whose opinion on whether the City of Pittsburgh should remain in Act 47 fiscal distress should count more–the newly sworn in chief executive of the City who wants the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, December 26, 2013

    Key Details of Transportation Bill

    Policy Brief Volume 13, Number 59 calculated the impact of the transportation bill on taxes on diesel fuel, defined by Title 75 subsection 9002 as "Fuels", and not for gasoline ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, December 04, 2013

    Pittsburgh School Spending

    (December 4, 2013)--For several years the Allegheny Institute has called attention to the Pittsburgh School District's per pupil expenditures of more than $20,000. The preliminary 2014 budget calls ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, November 19, 2013

    911: A State of Financial Emergency?

    (November 19, 2013)--In September the Pennsylvania House Committee on Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness visited Allegheny County to conduct the third in a series of hearings across the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, November 12, 2013

    Will Legislature Finally Amend Prevailing Wage Law?

    (November 12, 2013)--With wrangling over transportation legislation expected to resume now that election season is over, a surprise topic will be possible changes in Pennsylvania's prevailing wage ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, November 05, 2013

    Pittsburgh School Enrollment Decline No Surprise

    (November 5, 2013)--In something of a surprise to school officials and the promoters of public schools in Pittsburgh, enrollment in the District fell for the school year just underway. They had ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, October 29, 2013

    County Drink Tax for Mon Valley Shuttle?

    (October 29, 2013)--As the General Assembly debates funding for transportation for roads and bridges as well as mass transit, many have an interest in seeing it resolved. One interested group is the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, October 21, 2013

    PA Slots Revenue Weakened

    (October 21, 2013)--When the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) released the slot machine revenue report for September, it noted that statewide revenues were six percent lower than they had ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, October 15, 2013

    Tax Foundation Updates Flawed State Ranking

    (October 15, 2013)--Each year the Washington DC based Tax Foundation releases its State Business Tax Climate ranking report. For the past several years Pennsylvania has done reasonably well according ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, October 08, 2013

    How Fares the PA Economy?

    (October 8, 2013)--Two recent surveys suggest the business community remains guarded about economic conditions. The PNC Bank survey of small businesses found that almost 9 in 10 Pennsylvania firms ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, October 04, 2013

    Constructing a Gaming Money Ledger

    (October 3, 2013)--As of September 1, 2013, accumulated gaming revenue from slots and table games amounting to nearly $700 million had been distributed in Allegheny County.

    Most of it ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, September 30, 2013

    Looking Anew at School District Mergers

    September 30, 2013)--In 2009, Beaver County school districts Center Area and Monaca merged to become Central Valley. It was the first voluntary merger in decades. At the time, state officials ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, September 25, 2013

    Tackle Highway Funding, Mass Transit Separately

    (September 25, 2013)--One of the reasons transportation funding bills are so hard to get passed is their complexity. They present political problems in trying to please too many constituencies ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, September 05, 2013

    Pittsburgh Area Job Gains Good

    (September 4, 2013)--Over the last twelve months–July 2012 to July 2013 (the latest available figures)–private sector employment in the Pittsburgh seven county metro area climbed by ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, August 29, 2013

    Familiar Threads in Harrisburg Recovery Plan

    (August 28, 2013)--Over three years ago, in February 2010, we asked if the debt related to a trash incinerator was pervasive enough to cause a municipal bankruptcy filing–colloquially, that the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, August 01, 2013

    Will ACA Bail on Unfunded Municicpal Retiree Health Benefits?

    (August 1, 2013)--Detroit and Chicago have announced plans to offload their unfunded retiree health plans onto the Affordable Care Act exchanges. The Detroit announcement predated the July 18th ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, July 22, 2013

    Major Changes in PAT Board

    (July 19, 2013)--The Governor has signed legislation that will dramatically alter the board of directors of the Port Authority (PAT). What was a nine member body with members serving staggered five ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, July 03, 2013

    Is the Pittsburgh Promise Not Enough?

    (July 3, 2013)--Begun six years ago with great fanfare and grandiose goals, the Pittsburgh Promise seems to be falling well short of its primary objectives to improve the quality of education and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, June 28, 2013

    Rural and Urban Roads

    (June 28, 2013)--In an informational piece put out by the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, the point is made that "…in densely ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, June 27, 2013

    Transportation Amendment Serious About Costs

    (June 26, 2013)--According to newspaper accounts, the proposed House amendment to the transportation funding legislation takes a very sensible and long overdue approach to difficult issues that have ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 19, 2013

    Pension Obligations Taxing Property Owners

    (June 19, 2013)--Pension problems facing school districts have come home to roost. As we wrote in a recent blog: "Unless there is agreement on pension reform legislation…most school ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, June 17, 2013

    Shortchanging Education?

    (June 17, 2013)--To no one's surprise the head of the state's largest teachers' union is again complaining about the unwillingness of the state to replace the Federal stimulus spending that ended in ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 12, 2013

    Port Authority Board Bill Moves Forward

    (June 12, 2013)--By a 16 to 10 vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 10th, Senate Bill 700 took another step toward becoming law. Of course, the full Senate has to consider it and, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 30, 2013

    Marcellus Royalty Payments Rising Rapidly

    (May 30, 2013) From all accounts natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation has been an economic boon for Pennsylvania. While the exact overall impact may be up for debate, what is not ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, May 08, 2013

    Legislature Restarts Pension Reform

    (May 8, 2013)--Is this the year changes come to Allegheny County's Retirement System, a self-insured defined benefit plan covering more than 7,400 non-uniformed employees, jail guards, deputy ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, May 03, 2013

    Drilling Fee Revenue Slips Below 2011 Collections

    (May 3, 2013)--On April 1st, drillers operating in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale formation were required to pay their annual well fees to the Commonwealth. As discussed in Policy Briefs Volume 12, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, April 03, 2013

    US Airways Taking Pittsburgh for Another Ride?

    (April 3, 2013)--USAirways has entered into a merger agreement with American Airlines. If the merger passes regulatory muster–it has already received approval of American's bankruptcy ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, February 01, 2013

    An Update on Municipal Finances in Allegheny County

    (February 1, 2013)--Many people keep fairly close tabs on the goings on of the Federal and State governments. However, they often are unaware of what is happening within their own municipality, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, January 25, 2013

    Another Tax Plan for Pittsburgh's Nonprofits

    (January 25, 2013)--Noting that non-profits in the City of Pittsburgh
    own a lot of property and employ a lot of people but are tax exempt
    and not a lot of them participate in helping the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, January 22, 2013

    LTV Site Redevelopment Edging Toward Reality?

    (January 22, 2013)--Recent announcements from the URA and the RIDC indicate that progress is being made on the long and winding road toward a redevelopment of the LTV Hazelwood site that was idled in ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, January 15, 2013

    Turnpike Tolls Rise to Pay Bond Debt

    (January 15, 2013)--For the fifth consecutive year, the Turnpike Commission welcomed 2013 with an increase in tolls, ten percent for cash customers and two percent for electronic customers (E-Z ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, January 09, 2013

    Unheralded Source of Job Strength in Pittsburgh Region

    (January 9, 2013)--There's a new jobs producing hero in town. Actually it has been around for a while but has stepped to the front of late. Professional and Technical Services now lays claim to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, January 03, 2013

    Supreme Court in Reassessment Thicket

    (January 3, 2013)--It has been nearly four years since the state Supreme Court struck down Allegheny County's base year assessments. It might have to wade back into the issue based on an appeal to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, December 17, 2012

    Rebutting Higher Taxes

    (December 17, 2012)--In a recent editorial in a Pittsburgh newspaper, a small business owner argued that if the Bush tax cuts for the richest two percent of taxpayers are not extended, small ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, December 03, 2012

    Pittsburgh International Struggles

    (December 3, 2012)--In early 2011 the Allegheny Institute wrote two Policy Briefs (Volume 11, Numbers 8 and 16) outlining some of the problems facing Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT). The first ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, November 19, 2012

    A Tale of Two Cities' Schools

    (November 19, 2012)--School closings, borrowings to close a budget deficit, and calling on employees to make sacrifices: that's happening in the Philadelphia School District. There can certainly be ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, November 15, 2012

    Sweet Deal for Steelers?

    (November 13, 2012)--With all three Pittsburgh professional sports teams playing in fancy new digs, taxpayers could be forgiven for thinking they are through having to subsidize the teams. But they ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, November 02, 2012

    Do Sto-Rox Teachers and School Board Really Care?

    (November 2, 2012)--The Sto-Rox School District recently rejected a charter school proposal. This prompted a teachers' union official to declare victory and state that the district "has a ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, October 25, 2012

    Did Funding Decline Cause Drop in Achievement Scores?

    (October 25, 2012)--The recent release of 2011-2012 PSSA test results showed a decline in the statewide percentages of student scoring at the proficient or advanced level (-1.4 percent in math and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, October 12, 2012

    Hill District Grocery

    (October 12, 2012)--Where's the beef? Where is the chicken, the
    bread, the canned soup, the detergent, or the coffee? Not in a Hill
    District grocery store that's for sure. And since the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, October 04, 2012

    What Does Future Hold for Alco Pensions?

    (October 3, 2012)--The audited data for Allegheny County's Retirement
    System shows that from 2005 until 2011 the system has slipped in
    health and the County is putting in a smaller ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, September 28, 2012

    Pittsburgh Promise Goes for Broke

    (September 28, 2012)--The Pittsburgh Promise program was launched to great fanfare in 2006 as the panacea for what ails City schools. It was claimed that by offering scholarships to virtually all ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, September 19, 2012

    Analysis of Pittsburgh MSA Labor Force Growth

    (September 19, 2012)--When the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the July household data many were happy to learn that the labor force for the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, September 12, 2012

    Big Drop in Pittsburgh PSSA Scores

    September 12, 2012)--Last week the state reported that more stringent security measures had been implemented for 2012 PSSA testing as a result of evidence that scores were being enhanced by cheating ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, September 10, 2012

    Will Ohio Gaming Threaten PA Casinos?

    (September 10, 2012)--The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board released revenue figures for August 2012 and noted that total gross revenue increased by 3.7 percent from casinos that were in operation ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, September 05, 2012

    Will RAD be Tapped for PAT?

    (September 5, 2012)--Call it a strange case of foreshadowing. When the Regional Asset District (RAD) became law under Act 77 of 1993, only a few people other than Legislators would have noticed the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, August 30, 2012

    Light is Dawning on Turnpike Debt Growth

    (August 30, 2012)--In January of this year, the Pennsylvania's
    Auditor General proclaimed that the Pennsylvania Turnpike was
    "drowning in debt" to which the Turnpike CEO responded ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, August 28, 2012

    Pittsburgh in Denial About Pension Assets

    (August 27, 2012)--In yet another example of can kicking on a
    critical public policy issue, the Pittsburgh pension board voted down
    City Controller Lamb's proposal to study whether ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, August 20, 2012

    Proposed AlCo Air Regs Could Hamper Growth

    (August 20, 2012)--Hard on the heels of the recent release of CNBC's dismally low ranking of Pennsylvania's business friendliness (Policy Brief Volume 12 Number 36) the Allegheny County Health ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, August 13, 2012

    Pension Battle Still Simmering

    Pension Battle Still Simmering

    (August 13, 2012)--Is Pittsburgh wearing rose colored glasses when it comes to estimating the rate of return on its pension plan investments? If so, should ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, August 09, 2012

    PAT Bailout is the Wrong Approach

    (August 8, 2012)--As the long running saga of the Port Authority's (PAT) tortured finances winds toward the metaphorical cliff on September 2nd, perhaps it is time to rethink the entire approach to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, July 19, 2012

    PA Slides in Another Business Climate Ranking

    (July 19, 2012)--The Commonwealth slid in yet another ranking of the state's business climate. In their report "America's Top States for Business 2012" CNBC uses ten categories to rank the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, July 16, 2012

    Are Public Sector Pension Changes Coming?

    (July 16, 2012)--It is not going to get any easier on the pension front in Pennsylvania. Just this week, as the state put the final touches on the 2012-13 budget, the warning bells on the costs ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, July 09, 2012

    SW PA Job Growth Reviewed

    As we have written in previous Policy Briefs, the Pittsburgh metropolitan statistical area (MSA) experienced strong employment growth in 2011 (as measured by the establishment survey), especially in ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, June 28, 2012

    School Property Tax Reform Must Start with Cost Containment

    (June 27, 2012)--On June 11th, H.B. 1776, a proposal to end school property taxes, came up for a vote in the House Finance Committee. The Committee believed the proposal contained too many ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 20, 2012

    Pittsburgh Promise Raises Money, But Misses Primary Goals

    (June 20, 2012)--Last week was a bounty of good news for boosters of the Pittsburgh Promise. It was announced that $160 million had been raised over the past four years, putting it well on its way ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 13, 2012

    Alco: Appeals of Homes Recently Sold

    (June 13, 2012)--Many taxpayers are not happy with their new assessments. Those who think their new assessed value is too high have initiated appeals. Count among this group the County Executive, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, June 11, 2012

    Questons About Property Tax Reform Bill

    In November 2011 we wrote a Policy Brief about a proposal to end school property taxes in Pennsylvania (Volume 11, Number 61). The proposal came from the House Majority Policy Committee with the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, May 29, 2012

    County Executive Vows to Fix Port Authority

    (May 29, 2012)--Allegheny County's Chief Executive told the Tribune Review that changes are coming for the Port Authority (PAT), either within the existing structure or in a new structure–no ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, May 21, 2012

    Selling Unused Building Will Benefit Pittsburgh School District

    (May 21, 2012)--The Pittsburgh Public School District has 23 closed up school buildings on their hands and is spending $15.2 million per year on maintenance and debt service for them. In August ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, May 18, 2012

    Is it Sayonara to Property Taxes in Allegheny County?

    (May 17, 2012)--Stop the reassessment in Allegheny County, no matter what it takes. That has been the consistent mantra from the County Executive (before and after his election) who has asked for ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, May 11, 2012

    Port Authority's Deal with the Devil

    (May 11, 2012)--After all the hype about how wonderful it would be to have light rail service to the North Shore to serve the bustling development and entertainment venues, the Port Authority (PAT) ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, May 08, 2012

    Has Business Executive Optimism Faded?

    (May 8, 2012)--In the Lincoln Institute's Spring 2012 Keystone
    Business Climate Survey -

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, May 01, 2012

    Lung Association Doesn't Tell All

    (May 1, 2012)--Every year about this time–including last week's report on 2011 results–the American Lung Association reports on air quality across the country, singling out the cities and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, April 23, 2012

    Allegheny Institute: Assessment Changes

    (April 23, 2012)--Notwithstanding the results of appeals, the total assessed value of real property in Allegheny County is expected to increase 35 percent when new values are certified for 2013. ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, April 19, 2012

    Counties Vote to Impose Gas Well Fee

    (April 19, 2012)--When Act 13, the Unconventional Gas Well Impact Fee Act, was signed into law on February 14th, it gave counties with such wells the option of imposing an impact fee. The counties, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, April 16, 2012

    Assessment Task Forces Shies From Solutions

    (April 16, 2012)--Nearly three years after the Supreme Court ruled Allegheny County's base year plan to be in violation of the uniformity clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution comes the report of a ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, April 05, 2012

    Revisions Boost 2011 Job Gains Estimates

    (April 5, 2012)--When the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) issued the January workforce information release for the Pittsburgh metropolitan statistical area (MSA), the household ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 21, 2012

    School District Seeks Answers

    (March 21, 2012)--Cut personnel, raise taxes, or dip into the savings account. Those are the choices facing one of the largest school districts in Allegheny County. As the 2012-13 fiscal year ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 14, 2012

    Assessing the Allegheny Reassessment Accuracy

    (March 14, 2012)--In mid-2011–when all indications were that the County was on pace to complete the court-ordered reassessment and taxpayers would be getting notice of their new values as early ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, March 08, 2012

    PA Hits Bottom in New Business Tax Ranking

    (March 8, 2012)--Every year the Washington DC based Tax Foundation releases its State Business Tax Climate ranking report. For the past several years Pennsylvania has done reasonably well according ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, March 05, 2012

    A Funding Proposal to Alleviate PAT's Financial Woes

    (March 5, 2012)--By now it should be common knowledge that the source of the Port Authority's (PAT) financial problems stem from decades of labor contracts containing excessively generous pay and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, February 29, 2012

    Alco Airport Authority Involved in Privatization Effort

    (February 29, 2012)--The recent news that the Allegheny County Airport Authority is supporting privatization came as a bit of a surprise given the longstanding strenuous anti-privatization stance ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, February 27, 2012

    Assessing the Marcellus Well Impact Fee

    (February 24, 2012)--Recently, Governor Corbett signed the long awaited bill that imposes fees on Marcellus gas wells. The legislation, known as Act 13, gives counties where unconventional ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, February 17, 2012

    Washington County Assessment Appeal Tossed

    (February 17, 2012)--In a long running drama remarkably similar to the case in Allegheny County, a Commonwealth Court judge denied Washington County's appeal of a November 2011 lower court order ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, February 10, 2012

    Millage Change Requirements Following Reassessments

    Policy Brief (Volume 12, Number 8)
    Millage Change Requirements Following Reassessments

    (February 8, 2012)--In the weeks since the 2012 assessed values ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, January 30, 2012

    Solving PAT's Financial Woes

    (January 30, 2012)--The ongoing saga of the financial morass at the
    Port Authority (PAT) has developed an interesting twist. Governor
    Corbett, through a spokesperson, has responded to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, January 18, 2012

    Turnpike Drowning in Debt

    (January 17, 2012)--Recently Pennsylvania's Auditor General stated that the Pennsylvania Turnpike is "drowning in debt". This characterization was disputed by the Turnpike's CEO as ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, January 09, 2012

    Alco Municipalities Holding Own on Pensions

    January 9, 2012)--In our ongoing analysis and review of the financial conditions of Allegheny County municipalities, we take a look at the health of pension plans. Much has been made of the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, January 04, 2012

    Alco Tax Hike: A Regional Perspective

    (January 4, 2012)--Setting aside all the madness surrounding the reassessment process that began with the mailing of new values to property owners in Pittsburgh and Mt. Oliver, it is important to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, December 14, 2011

    The Assessment Nightmare Before (and After) Christmas

    (December 14, 2011)--As if the craziness surrounding the much delayed implementation of the Supreme Court's decision regarding Allegheny County's base year could not get any worse, it is possible ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, December 12, 2011

    Pittsburgh Region Jobs Picture Looking Up

    (December 12, 2011)--Has the Pittsburgh area climbed out of the recession? Notwithstanding the commentary nationally and locally lamenting the tough economic times across much of the Country and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, November 29, 2011

    Another Proposal to End School Property Taxes

    (November 29, 2011)--Every so often the idea comes up--shifting the
    school tax burden from property to something else such as the sales
    tax or the personal or earned income tax. And as ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, November 28, 2011

    County Tax Exemption Coming to an End?

    (November 22, 2011)--Since 2003, Allegheny County has offered a homestead exclusion that reduces the assessed value of owner-occupied residences by $15,000. Under the exclusion, an owner living in a ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, November 16, 2011

    Debunking Keystone Research

    (November 16, 2011)--How to speed job growth in Pennsylvania?
    According to the latest offering from the Keystone Research Center
    (KRC), the Commonwealth and local tax levying bodies should ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, November 10, 2011

    Population Changes in Allegheny County Municipalities

    (November 10, 2011)--In last week's Policy Brief (Volume 11, Number 56), we documented the per capita spending and revenues for most of Allegheny County's municipalities noting the high, low and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, November 03, 2011

    Update on Municipal Spending in Allegheny County

    (November 1, 2011)--Local government is perhaps the most important to its residents, yet many are unaware of how much their municipality collects in revenues and spends on services. In 2010 we ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, October 24, 2011

    Supreme Court Undermines Act 47

    (October 24, 2011)--A recently announced momentous decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has severely limited the power of Act 47 to impose steps aimed at helping financially distressed ...

    [View Full Article]

    Sat, October 22, 2011

    Dealing with City Pensions: What's Next?

    (October 21, 2011)--Following closely behind the oversight board's
    approval of the City's 2012 updated budget, which included putting an
    additional $10 million toward pensions and bringing ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, October 06, 2011

    Time for State to Terminate Duquesne School District

    (October 4, 2011)--Almost a decade ago, the Allegheny Institute reported on the dreadful SAT scores recorded by Duquesne High School students. In 2003, we noted that Duquesne's average combined 2001 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, October 06, 2011

    Defense of Prevailing Wage Law Falls Short

    (October 6, 2011)--The Keystone Research Center (KRC) recently
    released a report touting the benefits of Pennsylvania's prevailing
    wage law. The report appears to be timed to offer ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, September 22, 2011

    PA: Naton's Leading User of Local Income Tax

    (September 22, 2011) - Act 32 of 2008 will go into effect this coming January, changing the method of collecting local earned income taxes (wage taxes) levied by municipalities and school districts ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, September 14, 2011

    One Young World: Many Local Questions

    (September 14, 2011) - In October 2012, Pittsburgh will roll out the welcome mat for another international-flavored conference, this one called the One Young World summit. Of course the Mayor and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, September 06, 2011

    Carnegie Library System: Comparative Operating Stats

    (September 6, 2011)--After receiving little attention in the way of research since the 1990s, the state of the Carnegie Libraries–a public trust of 19 libraries with a collection of over 5.2 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, August 29, 2011

    Public Sector Pay Study Misses Mark

    Policy Brief (Volume 11, Number 44)
    Public Sector Pay Study Completely Misses the Mark

    (August 29, 2011) - A study just released jointly by the Keystone

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, August 18, 2011

    Numbers Improve at Rivers Casino

    (August 18, 2011) - As the second full year of operations came to a close, the Rivers Casino received some good news in the form of an upgrade in its credit rating by Moody's Investors Service. An ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, July 20, 2011

    Is Pittsburgh Council Serious About Shutting Down Parking Authorty?

    (July 20, 2011)--Members of Pittsburgh City Council have expressed frustration with the operations of the Public Parking Authority. Some have mentioned the possibility of dissolving the Authority. ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, July 15, 2011

    Economic Impact of Marcelus Shale in Pittsburgh Region

    (July 15, 2011) - The proponents of drilling for gas in the Marcellus Shale formation are quick to point out the economic benefits this new industry is bringing to the Pittsburgh region and the state ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, July 07, 2011

    Backpedaling on Assessment Completion Date

    (July 7, 2011) - For those who were on the edge of their seats waiting to get assessment notices this month, the excitement will have to wait. Allegheny County won't be processing reassessment ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 29, 2011

    Pittsburgh Retiree Benefits Problem Getting Worse

    As we have written on previous occasions, the City of Pittsburgh's legacy cost issue is multi-faceted–although little attention is given to some important parts of the problem. Heavy focusing ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 22, 2011

    Wisconsin Reins in Government Worker Unions

    Back in the wintry days of February, the nation's attention was focused intensely on the Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin. Thousands of boisterous protestors took over the public areas of the building ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 15, 2011

    Alco: Gearing Up for New Assessments

    "Assessments" and "fatigue" are two words normally not linked together, but they are forever joined in Allegheny County thanks to the events of the past decade. Since the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, June 09, 2011

    Bills to End Teacher Strikes Introduced

    "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more:" A Shakespearian cry from Henry the Fifth urging soldiers to take advantage of an important military opportunity that could soon be ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, June 02, 2011

    Debunking Demographic Hype in the 'Burgh

    Giddy editorial writers at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette nearly hyperventilated recently upon learning the City's median age had declined from 35.5 years in 2000 to 33.2 years in 2010. As they ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, May 25, 2011

    What to Do About Mass Transit Costs in PA?

    "Let's face it–transit agencies are not private companies and do not make a profit. Public transit has both a business and a social mission". So began the presentation on mass ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, May 23, 2011

    Time to Repeal Prevailing Wage Law

    Many, perhaps most, Pennsylvania school districts are facing a financial
    crunch. With taxpayers already stretched to the limit and Harrisburg
    contemplating large cuts to K-12 education ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, May 16, 2011

    Union Members Minority of PA Workforce

    At only 15 percent of all employees, union members make up a small fraction of Pennsylvania's workforce. Yet somehow they exercise enormous and far out of proportion influence on elected officials ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 12, 2011

    A Lesson on Costs and Causes in Education

    Correlation: a relation existing between phenomena or things or between mathematical or statistical variables which tend to vary, be associated, or occur together in a way not expected on the basis ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, May 03, 2011

    Data Revisions Change Region's Unemployment Picture

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has revised its labor force estimates for the period 2005 through 2010. This was done to reflect new Census Bureau population controls, updated input data, new ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, April 25, 2011

    Alco 'Base Year' Assessment Plan Failing

    Although Allegheny County's base year plan has not completely given up the
    ghost, the epitaph for the plan is beginning to be written. Created in
    October of 2005 by Ordinance #45-05, the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, April 20, 2011

    Has Allegheny County Population Loss Ended?

    Has the population decline in Allegheny County that dates back to 1960 finally ended? The latest Census figures show the rate of population loss since 2000 appears to have slowed to a halt–at ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, April 18, 2011

    Education Employment Grows by Leaps and Bounds

    School districts around the region and across the Commonwealth are grappling with the realities of the coming fiscal year and exploring methods of cost-savings and revenue enhancements. In recent ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, April 11, 2011

    After Rapid Cost Increases, Can Universities Cut?

    Governor Tom Corbett's first budget did more than ruffle a few feathers: it threw many of those on the public dole into a full throttle tizzy. Among them are the public universities that have for ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, April 04, 2011

    Where Was Pittsburgh Budget Oversight?

    Legislate in haste, repent at leisure. Recent developments indicate that axiom applies to the City's budget, especially the New Years' Eve plan aimed at avoiding a state takeover of pensions. The ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, March 29, 2011

    Uncertainty and Confusion Abound at PAT

    What seemed to be a clear and straightforward agenda at the Port Authority (PAT) board's March 25th meeting turned into a much longer and drawn-out affair after the transit union made a last-ditch ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, March 25, 2011

    Another View of Heinz Endowment Air Quality Findings

    In a report [1] released March 9, the Heinz Endowments presented a very negative picture of air quality in the Pittsburgh region. Two of their key assertions need close examination.

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, March 24, 2011

    Charter Members

    The respective partisan caucuses of Allegheny County Council will soon be meeting to select members to fill the two vacancies caused by Council members who vacated their seats in order to run for the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, March 18, 2011

    Pensions Landscape in Allegheny County

    Allegheny County is home to nearly 300 pension plans that cover the gamut of local government employees: from police officers and firefighters to bus drivers, clerks and garbage collectors, from ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, March 15, 2011

    Pittsburgh Airport Costs Hinder Growth

    Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) has failed to live up to its potential since construction was completed nearly two decades ago. As we wrote in a previous Policy Brief (Volume 11, Number 8), ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, March 10, 2011

    PAT Moves Slowly on Private Bus Service

    In response to the planned reduction of mass transit service that entails the elimination of 29 routes and the curtailment of 37 others, Lenzner Tours, a private service provider, has applied to the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, March 08, 2011

    Moratorium Needs on Calls for Moratoriums

    Allegheny County Council is on the verge of taking up legislation that would instruct the Council's solicitor to ask the courts to halt the reassessment ordered by a local court and the Supreme Court ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, March 04, 2011

    Are Changes Coming to the Oversight Board?

    The Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority for Cities of the Second Class–commonly known as the ICA and more commonly as the oversight board–was created in 2004 to help prevent a fiscal ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 02, 2011

    Allegheny County Council Continues Irresponsible Voting

    Hard on the heels of its repugnant and indefensible vote to smear W and K Steel by designating it as a "sweatshop", County Council has added to its irresponsible record by voting ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, February 23, 2011

    Another Misleading Analysis of PA Jobs

    In a February 8, 2011 report, the Keystone Research Center credits Pennsylvania's recent comparatively good jobs performance on all the money spent in the last few years to promote green energy, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, February 21, 2011

    New Hampshire Flirts with Right to Work

    Last week, the New Hampshire House of Representatives sent a shock wave through New England and North Atlantic states by passing Right-to-Work legislation by an overwhelming majority. New Hampshire's ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, February 17, 2011

    Promise Program Sends a Better Message

    The Pittsburgh Promise college scholarship program, in an abrupt departure from its original plan, announced changes to the amounts available to graduating students who qualify for funds. The ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, February 09, 2011

    What to Do About Pittsburgh Airport?

    The new terminal at Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) was constructed in the early 1990s at the behest of US Airways to strengthen Pittsburgh's status as the principal "hub" in the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, February 03, 2011

    Allegheny County Employment: 20 Years of Falling Behind

    Economic development in Allegheny County over the last few decades has been driven heavily by government subsidies and directives putting taxpayers–County, state and municipal–in the role ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, February 01, 2011

    Sunset Review: Better Late Than Never?

    Compare and contrast the events that occurred around this past New Year's Eve for the region's most high profile governments. Pittsburgh City Council and the City administration were in a virtual ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, January 27, 2011

    County Officials Avoid Assessment Responsibility

    An Allegheny County Council Committee has voted to instruct the Solicitor to file suit against the state Legislature in an effort to force it to enact a moratorium on reassessments and rewrite ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, January 25, 2011

    Voter Approval of Taxes Out of Reach

    Should voters in the City of Pittsburgh have the right to approve or reject property tax increases? A majority of City Council does not think so, and have effectively killed a measure that would ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, January 19, 2011

    P-G 'Mapping Mortality' Raises Concerns

    A review of the analysis and data used in the Post-Gazette series "Mapping Mortality" raises very serious concerns about the accuracy of the conclusions drawn regarding the alleged need for ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, January 10, 2011

    Is a Taxpayer Referendum on Its Way to Pittsburgh?

    Pittsburgh Councilman Burgess has introduced a measure to give City voters the power to approve or reject property tax increases. The proposed ordinance calls for a referendum asking voters if they ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, January 06, 2011

    Pittsburgh Council Pension Funding Raises Questions

    As the proverbial clock moved close to midnight on December 31st Pittsburgh City Council finalized a plan it believed would be sufficient to avoid a state takeover of the City's underfunded pensions. ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, December 30, 2010

    Municipal Spending in Allegheny County

    With municipalities across Allegheny County setting their budgets for the upcoming year, several are patting themselves on the back for not raising taxes. That is a good thing but it would be even ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, December 22, 2010

    IS the Capital City Headed for Bankruptcy?

    Just last week, the state's capital city, Harrisburg (population 47k), was declared financially distressed under Act 47. Harrisburg becomes the 20th city since the statute became law in 1987 to be ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, December 16, 2010

    Rivers Casino Profitability Disadvantage

    As we have documented in past Policy Briefs, the Rivers Casino has gotten off to a rocky start–first with ownership problems and then with weak gross terminal revenues from slots operations. ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, December 09, 2010

    Crucial Decision Time for the SPC

    On December 13th the board of the Southwest Pennsylvania Commission (SPC)–which consists of elected and appointed officials responsible for steering planning and transportation priorities for ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, December 03, 2010

    Brookings Tells Us Nothing About Pittsburgh Economy

    Since 2008, the Allegheny Institute has commented many times on the slow arriving recession and its relatively moderate negative impact on the region's economy. With no housing or general real ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, November 29, 2010

    State Must Act Now to Fix the Port Authority

    The Port Authority (PAT) is bankrupt. It is bankrupt financially, intellectually and morally. PAT's board and the elected officials who appoint the board members refuse to listen to suggestions of ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, November 19, 2010

    A Plant o Mitigate Bus Service Cuts

    As expected, the Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT) has announced that it is out of options and will make drastic cuts in service beginning in March. Faced with a near $50 million budget ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, November 16, 2010

    PAT Bus System Still Expensive

    There is s lot of hand wringing over the Port Authority's (PAT) plans to cut bus service dramatically to deal with the agency's nearly $50 million budget shortfall. While civic leaders, businesses, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, November 11, 2010

    Getting Serious About Public Sector Pensions

    A Tribune Review article of November 8 reminds once again just how desperate the unfunded pension plan situation is for many Pennsylvania communities, including the two largest cities as well as ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, November 10, 2010

    What Will Become of Oversight Board?

    Next year marks the end of the current life span of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (ICA) for Cities of the Second Class, commonly known as the Oversight Board. Created by Act 11 of ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, November 04, 2010

    Are Pittsburgh School Luchring Toward Fiscal Nightmare?

    As the Pittsburgh Public School District Board prepares to release its proposed budget for 2011, they are quick to point out there will be no tax increase for the tenth consecutive year. Supporters ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, November 03, 2010

    Pittsburgh School Enrollment Slide Continues

    Pittsburgh Public Schools have seen yet another enrollment decline continuing a trend dating back over a decade. The student count for the 2010-11 school year fell 3.1 percent (797) below the year ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 27, 2010

    Pittsburgh School Enrollment Slide Continues

    Pittsburgh Public Schools have seen yet another enrollment decline continuing a trend dating back over a decade. The student count for the 2010-11 school year fell 3.1 percent (797) below the year ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 20, 2010

    Garage Privatization Should Remain Option in Pittsburgh

    With City Council's final vote and the Mayor's pronouncement that it is "time to move on" to other issues, the stage appears to be set for the troubled pension plans to move from City ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, October 15, 2010

    What Will a State Pension Takeover Mean for Pittsburgh?

    "A City of the Second Class that is determined to be in Level III distress based upon the required actuarial valuation reports for a plan year beginning on January 1, 2011, shall transfer all ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 06, 2010

    Has Recession Loosened Its Grip on the Pittsburgh Region?

    Is the recession loosening its grip on the Pittsburgh area? According to the latest payroll employment data for August, the answer may be "yes". August marked the third straight month ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, October 01, 2010

    Improving Home Rule in Allegheny County

    As home rule government begins its second decade in Allegheny County–the effective date of the Home Rule Charter was January 1, 2000–taxpayers and residents of the County have several big ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, September 30, 2010

    Will Table Games Solve Rivers Casino Revenue Problems?

    Gmail Calendar Web Documents Reader more ▼Photos

    The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has released revenue data for the first full month of table game operations at the state's ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, September 22, 2010

    Comparing Municipality Employee Counts

    Our recent report on municipal financial statistics (Report # 2010-04) shed light on the spending and revenues of a cross section sample of twenty municipalities in Allegheny County. The report ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, September 16, 2010

    PA SAT Scores Point to Futility of Higher Spending

    Once again reality intrudes on the fantasy world of the politicians, educrats, teachers' unions, school board members, and many parents who have swallowed hook, line and sinker the narrative that ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, September 14, 2010

    Can County Corral Authorities?

    Under a proposed resolution (5836-10) before County Council, several of the County's larger special purpose authorities would be studied by an independent panel that could then recommend remedial ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, September 09, 2010

    Merging Municipal Functions into Counties: A Bad Idea

    A recently introduced bill in Harrisburg would mandate that all municipal functions be merged into their host county. The rationale is an old one–too many municipalities are stifling economic ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, September 03, 2010

    No Labor Day Joy in Pittsburgh

    Compounding the litany of financial difficulties confronting the City of Pittsburgh the latest jobless figures (July 2010) show a recession-high unemployment rate in the City's labor force of 9.1 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, August 30, 2010

    Why So Many Non-Teaching Employees in Pittsburgh?

    A pop quiz as another school year gets underway: what is the student-to-teacher
    ratio in the Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS)? According to the most recent audited data (2009) the District shows ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, August 24, 2010

    Corporate Welfare Apologists Never Give Up

    Back in 2001, an editorial in Pittsburgh's liberal/progressive newspaper justified the taxpayer investment in PNC Park and Heinz Field on the basis of a couple of million dollars in projected ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, August 24, 2010

    Time to Fix Hole in Allegheny County's Oath of Office

    The Mayor of Pittsburgh, members of Pittsburgh City Council, and all City appointees do it; so too do the members of Allegheny County's personnel board; county officials in Erie County also do it; ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, August 17, 2010

    Sunset Review Still Hasn't Seen Light of Day

    Back in March of this year (Policy Brief Volume 10, Number 16) we inquired as to the whereabouts of Allegheny County's mandated periodic sunset review. Under language in the Home Rule ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, August 11, 2010

    Casino Anniversary: A Disappointing Year

    August 9th marked the one year anniversary of the Rivers Casino opening. While the Casino and its supporters claim the last year was a success, analysis of their gross terminal revenues (slot ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, August 09, 2010

    Senatorial Connector Criticism Gets Lame PAT Response

    In a recently released report by Senators Coburn and McCain titled "Summertime Blues", the North Shore Connector–Pittsburgh's $529 million "big dig"–was identified as ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, August 04, 2010

    Has SPC Derailed Flex Plan?

    In Policy Brief Volume 10, Number 39 we discussed the Governor's mention of the possibility of "flexing" highway money to help the Port Authority (PAT) with its impending deficit thereby ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, July 30, 2010

    PA #1 in Teacher Strikes

    We have pointed on many occasions how Pennsylvania is one of a handful of states that give teachers the right to strike if collective bargaining does not produce a contract. Teacher strikes are ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, July 23, 2010

    Flexible Healing of PAT is No Cure

    "In the future our limited highway dollars should first be used to repair our existing roads and bridges, not close holes in the transit budget"–Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, July 20, 2010

    Pittsburgh's Pension Solution

    In last week's Policy Brief (Volume 10, Number 37) we showed that the proposal to lease Parking Authority facilities as a means to raise $200 million for Pittsburgh's pension funds would ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, July 15, 2010

    Proposed Pittsburgh Parking Lease

    As the Mayor takes his case for leasing the parking garages, lots, and meters to the public he has to wonder if at least one of the interested companies will see sufficient earnings potential from a ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 30, 2010

    What Will Pittsburgh Parking Study Accomplish?

    What Will Council's $250,000 Parking Study Accomplish?

    City Council wants to leave no stone unturned and wants to make sure that when it decides to approve or disapprove of any agreement ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, June 24, 2010

    Rendell Gets It Wrong on Education Spending

    Speaking to group of Pennsylvania teachers on June 22, Governor Rendell tried to make the case for asking the Legislature to approve an additional $355 million in education spending in the 2010-2011 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 16, 2010

    Port Authority Irresponsibility: A Never Ending Story

    Policy Brief
    An electronic publication of
    The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy

    Is history repeating itself? Later this week the state will convene a meeting in the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, June 08, 2010

    Rivers Casino Credit Rating Drops to Dismal Low

    Investors in Rivers Casino are pouring more money into the underperforming facility. The investors include Rivers Casino Chairman Neil Bluhm and the Detroit fire and police pension funds that ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, June 04, 2010

    PA's Anti-Growth Trifecta

    The decades' long anemic growth of Pennsylvania's economy has been well documented. Consistently over many years, the state has posted job gains ranking among the bottom five or ten states. That ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, June 01, 2010

    Is Port Authority Headed for a Federal Bailout?

    Here we go again. Port Authority (PAT) is facing yet another financial crisis. This time they can blame it on the failure of the Feds to approve tolling I-80. So now they are looking at a $50 million ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 27, 2010

    Rivers Casino Revenue Up, But Below Expectations

    There is some moderately good news from the Rivers Casino–at least from the casino's perspective. Gross terminal revenue has picked up 20 percent thus far in 2010 compared to the opening five ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, May 25, 2010

    Another Weak Start for Pirate Attendance

    Policy Brief
    An electronic publication of
    The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy

    Welcome to another ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, May 21, 2010

    Teacher Union President Needs Some Education

    In an opinion piece earlier this week the president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association set out the teachers' association position on the impending requirement for massive contribution ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, May 19, 2010

    Pittsburgh Loses Again

    Pittsburgh has lost again, although this time it was not a sports contest. The City lost an arbitration award to the labor union representing Public Works employees. The grievance was over the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 13, 2010

    Pittsburgh's 0.3% Solution is a Very Bad Idea

    According to Mayor Ravenstahl there is unanimous agreement in his task force of government, university and business leaders that Pittsburgh needs a new source of revenue to bail out its ailing ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 06, 2010

    'Most Livable' a Dubious, Fleeting Honor

    Quick–who did Forbes magazine recently name as its "Most Livable City"? Unless one has been under a rock in southwestern Pennsylvania they would know that Pittsburgh was crowned with ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, May 04, 2010

    Candidates Spar Over Allegheny County Jobs

    Two candidates vying for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination have questioned the accuracy of County Executive Onorato's campaign ads regarding claims of job creation and are suggesting they are ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, April 27, 2010

    Pittsburgh's Financial Watchdogs Lose Their Bark

    Pittsburgh City Council recently enacted a prevailing wage bill and is now considering a living wage bill. Both measures will almost certainly increase City spending either directly, by raising the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, April 21, 2010

    The Bell Tolls for PAT: Do They Hear It?

    Without tolls on Interstate 80 (I-80) to generate funds for roads, bridges, and mass transit, the CEO of Port Authority (PAT) says that what was a $25 million deficit for the coming fiscal year will ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, April 14, 2010

    Great Schools Ranking of Schools Flawed

    GreatSchools, a San Francisco non-profit organization, recently ranked cities according to school performance and city affordability. According to GreatSchools the rankings were done to assist ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, April 08, 2010

    Strike Three: Tolling I-80 is Out!

    For the third time Pennsylvania's application to toll Interstate 80 (I-80) has been denied by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated that the FHWA ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, April 05, 2010

    Are Public Pensions Becoming a Financial Suicide Pact?

    Here are two hard and uncomfortable truths about public pensions that will undoubtedly play an enormous role on policy and legislative decisions by the state and local governments in coming years:

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 31, 2010

    Mt. Lebanon Condo Plan Falls Through - Again

    Mt. Lebanon's controversial condominium project known as Washington Park, to be built on property formerly owned by the municipality's Parking Authority, has officially fallen through. Officially, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, March 26, 2010

    Has the Sun Set on Sunset Review in Allegheny County?

    Since Allegheny County's Home Rule Charter and administrative code clearly spell out that a sunset review of all County operating departments is to be conducted every four years, why has it been ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 24, 2010

    Measuring Pittsburgh's Financial Performance

    Compared to our Benchmark City–an amalgamation of financial data from four U.S. regional hub cities that differ in geographic location, population, square mileage, and political ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 17, 2010

    Recession Continues to Grip Region

    According to some analysts the recession is over. The Bureau of Economic Analysis has reported that real gross domestic product increased in both the third and fourth quarters of 2009, suggesting the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 10, 2010

    Gaming Revenue Impact on Government Spending

    Money received by Allegheny County from gaming taxes almost certainly delayed hard budgetary choices. Would the County have raised taxes or cut spending in the absence of gaming dollars promised or ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 03, 2010

    Hard to Feel Sympathy for PAT

    Another year, another budget crisis. The Port Authority's (PAT) budget projection for 2010-2011 calls for yet another funding shortfall; this time about $25 million. PAT's planning and development ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, February 24, 2010

    Pittsburgh's Apologists Return with Bad Policy Suggestions

    The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy

    In 2003 a duo of the City's elite chaired a task force known as the Hillman/Roderick Committee to study Pittsburgh's financial problems and to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, February 22, 2010

    Can Johnstown Regain its Financial Footing?

    An electronic publication of
    The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy

    In Act 47 status since 1992 and on its fourth amended recovery plan, the City of Johnstown just started ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, February 16, 2010

    Mt. Lebanon Schools Become a Taxpayer Mightmare

    Mt. Lebanon taxpayers, like many taxpayers in Pennsylvania, are facing a shocking increase in school taxes over the next five years. Between now and 2015, property tax collections in Mt. Lebanon are ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, February 10, 2010

    Allegheny Institute: Harrisburg Contemplates Bankruptcy

    Could a $288 million debt, most of which is related to a publicly owned trash
    incinerator, turn Harrisburg's finances to ashes?

    That's a question officials in ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, February 04, 2010

    Penn Hills Teacher Strike Mean-Spirited and Spiteful

    Penn Hills School District is cancelling classes in response to a teacher strike. This situation is all too commonplace in the state that annually leads the nation in teacher strikes.

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, January 25, 2010

    Allegheny Institute: Return of the Living Wage

    Pittsburgh City Council's attempt to install a prevailing wage for employees at City-subsidized development projects has emboldened one Council member to take it a step further and revisit the idea ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, January 21, 2010

    More Reassessment Bluster from the Chief Executive

    "Allegheny County will comply with the court-ordered 2012 reassessment…"–press release from the Chief Executive, December 4, 2009

    "I will do everything in my ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, January 20, 2010

    Mandated Wage Mania in Allegheny County

    Hard on the heels of the efforts of Pittsburgh to put together a "prevailing wage" law for workers on development projects that receive government financial assistance, now appears ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, January 14, 2010

    Pittsburgh Tax Revenue: A Better Approach

    When Pittsburgh's plans to use projected tuition tax revenues were denied by the Oversight Board, the resulting loss of $15 million in projected revenue for 2010 necessitated some reworking of the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, January 11, 2010

    Prevailing Gamesmanship

    In a bold New Year's Eve gambit, Mayor Ravenstahl's veto was able to stymie City Council efforts to institute a "prevailing wage" law in Pittsburgh through a bill it passed unanimously on ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, December 23, 2009

    Humbug: Coal to the Coalition for More Taxes

    Monday, December 21st marked the demise of the proposed tuition tax, also known as the "Post Secondary Education Privilege Tax" and the "Fair Share Tax", as the City and the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, December 14, 2009

    Pittsburgh's Worsening Policy Spiral

    Policy Brief
    An electronic publication of
    The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy

    Pittsburgh's City Council is holding debates over proposed prevailing wage legislation. The ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, December 10, 2009

    Allegheny Institute: Legislature Moves to Squash Tuition Tax

    Policy Brief
    An electronic publication of
    The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy

    December 10, 2009 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, December 09, 2009

    Labor Market Weakness Persists in Pittsburgh Region

    Despite the wishful thinking of some civic leaders and pundits, recessionary labor market conditions persist in the Pittsburgh area. The latest household survey data from the Bureau of Labor ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, December 04, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Allegheny County Taxes: The Rest of the Story

    At last Tuesday night's County Council meeting the Council President stated that "the story here is that for the ninth year in a row now, this council has not raised property taxes even as all ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, December 02, 2009

    Missing the Housing Boom

    Conventional thinking among local leaders is that because the area didn't "boom" during the last few years, it didn't suffer the economic "bust" to the degree some other areas ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, November 24, 2009

    Summing Up the G-20 Summit

    Shortly after the conclusion of the September G-20 Summit, the head of VisitPittsburgh claimed the event's economic benefits to the City and region reached $35 million. As we pointed out in an ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, November 20, 2009

    Assessment Fiasco Gets New Life

    Policy Brief
    An electronic publication of
    The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy

    At the October 19th hearing to determine how and when to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, November 17, 2009

    College Students: Welcome to Taxburgh

    The Mayor of Pittsburgh is trying to levy a new tax on college and university tuition to shore up the City's calamitous legacy costs. A City Council member has countered with another proposal. That ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, November 10, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    County Council Oversteps Yet Again

    Against the opinion of their own legal counsel and in the face of a threatened veto, County Council-on a 14 to 0 vote-passed legislation to impose service fees on certain tax-exempt, non-profit ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, November 04, 2009

    Pittsburgh Enrollment Decline Forecast to Continue

    An independent consultant hired by Pittsburgh Public Schools to study facility usage recommended closing 16 buildings and reconfiguring another 19 of the District's 70 facilities. The recommendations ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, October 29, 2009

    Allegheny Institute

    Clarifying Pittsburg's Employment Picture

    Pittsburgh's mayoral race has produced some heated rhetoric about the jobs situation in the City. One candidate has criticized the Mayor's characterization of the unemployment situation as being ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, October 27, 2009

    Eds and Meds Jobs: Another Look

    September jobs numbers for the Pittsburgh region monotonously repeat the story of the past several months–significant year over year employment declines. Total private jobs fell 32,000 from ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 21, 2009

    Allegheny Institute: County Officials's Assessment Confusion

    While running for the County Executive position the first time, the current holder of that office was unrelenting in his harsh criticism of the 2002 assessment values, arguing they were hopelessly ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, October 16, 2009

    Allegheny Institute: A Look at the 2010 Allegheny County Budget

    While state budget deliberations have come to a close, discussions about Allegheny County's budget are just beginning. The County's general fund-where most of the day to day operations are accounted ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 14, 2009

    Lingering Problems at Pittsburgh International

    The Allegheny County Airport Authority has released its budget for 2010. And while it contains a very slight increase in expenditures over this year's budget it has been necessary to boost airline ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 07, 2009

    Allegheny Institute: Home Rule Law Needs to be Revamped

    Almost a year ago to the day (Policy Brief Volume 8, Number 65) we asked this question: "who has the power to set tax rates in a home rule community?" The issue at hand was whether a ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, October 06, 2009

    G-20: Did Pittsburgh Come Out Ahead?

    Pittsburgh's cheerleaders are lauding the benefits of hosting the G-20 summit with a claim the City and region reaped $35 million in direct economic benefits as well as what amounts to $100 million ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, September 30, 2009

    Pittsburgh's Star Crossed Casino Not So Majestic

    It seems that if something can go wrong for Pittsburgh's Rivers Casino, it will. From problems with ownership, location, long construction delays, a grand opening that fizzled, to six weeks of ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, September 28, 2009

    Allegheny Institute: A Tax Ruling the Supreme Court Ought to Consider

    It has been two and a half years since Judge Wettick ruled Allegheny County's base year assessment system unconstitutional and ordered an updated assessment to be carried out. It has been six months ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, September 23, 2009

    Allegheny Institute: Wishful Jobs Thinking

    Folks in the Pittsburgh area were given a double dollop of wishful thinking about jobs over the past few days. One arrived in the form of a forecast, the other from a protest march led by the Bailout ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, September 22, 2009

    Allegheny Institute: Another Example of Union Tone Deafness

    Teachers in the South Butler School District are on strike for the second time in the last twelve months. They can stay on the picket lines until early October under Act 88. They face no ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, September 18, 2009

    Is Pittsburgh's Casino Being a Good Citizen?

    When Pittsburgh's casino license was transferred from Don Barden to Neil Bluhm's group, the latter agreed, as a condition of the transfer, to honor all obligations associated with that ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, September 16, 2009

    Allegheny Institute: Assessment Saga Continues

    The never ending saga of Allegheny County's assessment system continues as the County Court of Common Pleas, the County government, and the legal counsel for the opponents of the base year huddle to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, September 11, 2009

    Allegheny Institute: What Happens in Chapter 9 Bankruptcy?

    In a previous Policy Brief (Volume 9, Number 51) we raised the question of whether Pittsburgh's legacy costs could force the City to seek relief under Chapter 9 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Under ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, September 03, 2009

    Allegheny Institute

    Casino Revenues Face Uphill Struggle

    Earnings for the third week of operations at the Rivers Casino were lower than the already disappointing levels of the first two weeks. This pattern is rapidly becoming a problem for Pittsburgh's ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, August 26, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Pittsburgh Casino Not Off to a Good Start

    The Rivers Casino on Pittsburgh's North Shore just finished its first two full weeks of operations (August 10th through August 23rd). Wagering and revenue data are available to the public through the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, August 19, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Pittsburgh Encounters Pension Reform and Doesn't Like It

    If the health of Pittsburgh's three pension plans doesn't soon improve and if pending municipal pension reform legislation becomes state law, the City will see its oversight and administration of ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, August 14, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    What Would PA Gain by Consolidating School Districts?

    Could Pennsylvania see another reduction in the number of school districts in coming years? If it does, would the reduction be of the magnitude of the late 1950s and early 1960s when the district ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, August 13, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Assessing Pittsburgh's Casinos

    Pittsburgh's casino is now open. Its first day of operations saw $14 million wagered and gross profits for the casino $1.29 million. In the midst of all of the excitement surrounding the slots ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, August 07, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Is the eighth grade PSSA reading exam too easy?

    A close perusal of 2007-2008 PSSA (Pennsylvania System of Schools Assessment) reading test scores uncovers a serious question. What is going on with the 8th grade test that such high percentages of ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, August 03, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Pittsburgh Schools Still Not Making the Grade

    While waxing ecstatic last month about the Pittsburgh school district's improving achievement scores in the 2008-2009 school year, the Superintendent studiously avoided a thorough discussion of some ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, July 30, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Achievement Test Results and Education Spending

    A lesson well learned by all departments reporting to the Governor is how to milk anything resembling good news and obfuscate or remain silent about less pleasant news. Recent case in point: The ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, July 27, 2009

    Allegheny Institute Policy Brief:

    PAT Finances Suffer Despite New Contract

    State and local revenue assistance is flat, the capital budget might be raided to pay day-to-day costs, money has to be plowed into the pension fund, and the cost to patrons has to rise. These ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, July 24, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Bluhm on the Hook: But Taxpayers May Get the Bill

    With less than a month until the Rivers Casino opens in Pittsburgh the slots parlor is facing a $7.5 million payment due this October for its share of the hockey arena debt service. Predictably, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, July 14, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Pittsburgh Job Gains in Eds and Meds Are Not Unique

    As the deep recession continues to hold the economy in a tight grip, much is being made of how Pittsburgh's job market is being buoyed by the growth in the Education and Health sector. Comparative ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, July 06, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Population Slide Continues in City and Region

    The recently released 2008 population figures show the City of Pittsburgh posting a yearly loss of nearly 1,700 residents, continuing a trend that has been ongoing for several decades. City officials ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, July 01, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    The Best Laid Plans Not Good Enough

    When the Secretary of Pennsylvania's Department of Community and Economic Development rejected Pittsburgh's petition to have its Act 47 designation lifted last July, he noted that the City needed ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, June 26, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Silly Season for Meaningless Rankings

    News magazines apparently do not have enough real news to report so they have taken to creating news by preparing a seemingly endless flood of city rankings. Evidently the competition to produce such ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, June 25, 2009

    City Wants Commuters, Visitors and Nonprofits to Pay More

    To say the least, there has been little or no support in the state Legislature for the Mayor's call to boost Pittsburgh's revenue by increasing taxes paid by people working in the City (through a ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, June 19, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Recession Deepened in April

    Recession Deepened in April

    April employment numbers show a significant deepening of the recession in the Pittsburgh metro area. April data continued a disturbing trend of losses ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 17, 2009

    PA's Perilous Predicament

    The normal rite of spring known as the budget battle in Harrisburg is fast becoming a struggle for the future of Pennsylvania. As a result of the serious recession and declining revenue the state ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, June 12, 2009

    Allegheny Institute

    Privatizing Airport Parking: Will it Fly?

    Policy Brief
    An electronic publication of
    The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy

    June 11, 2009 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, June 04, 2009

    Spot Appeals: Another Problem Created by Base Year Assessments

    When counties adopt a base-year assessment system, they can lock in assessed values for very long periods. As a result, tax revenues cannot grow unless; (1) there is growth in total property value ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, May 29, 2009

    Policy Brief

    Turnpike Renewing Plans to Toll I-80

    Policy Brief
    An electronic publication of
    The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy

    May 29, 2009 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 28, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Act # 47 Errs Badly with Tax Recommendations

    Pittsburgh's Recovery Team unveiled its amended Recovery Plan last week, the latest step in the City's tenure under Act 47 distressed status that began in December of 2003. The amended Plan came ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 21, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    The Stimulus in Allegheny County: The Seen and the Unseen

    The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act–better known as the stimulus package–will inject $377 million into Allegheny County for transportation, community improvements, and education ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, May 19, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Reassessments: Rhetoric and Reality

    Ever since the County scuttled its long standing commitment to carry out a property reassessment in 2005 and adopted a base year plan, the Chief Executive has defended the actions with three basic ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, May 13, 2009

    Businesses Balk at Pittsburgh Promise Program

    According to a Tribune Review report, the Pittsburgh business community has not warmed to the Pittsburgh Promise program. This is the program that plans to offer college scholarships to virtually all ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, May 12, 2009

    Where Will the Chief Executive Take Assessments Next?

    Having recently lost a Pennsylvania Supreme Court case regarding his base-year assessment scheme, the County Executive is now threatening to take the case to Federal court. Considering the lawsuit ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 07, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    PA Budget Debate: Where Does Government's Obligation Lie?

    Thomas Jefferson writing in the Declaration of Independence lays out the self-evident truths that form the basis of the nation's founding. To wit; all men are created equal and endowed by their ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, April 30, 2009

    Supreme Court Tosses Out Allegheny County's Base Year Assessments

    "…We hold that the base year method property valuation, as applied in Allegheny County, violates the Uniformity Clause. We therefore agree that a countywide reassessment is required and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, April 29, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Push for City-County Merger Continues Despite Flaws, Unpopularity

    Not since the Regional Renaissance Initiative debacle has so much study group brainpower, City and County elected official political muscle, and high powered civic leadership influence been employed ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, April 22, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Social Assistance Jobs to the Rescue?

    Pittsburgh area jobs continue to fall as the recession tightens its grip on the region. Bureau of Labor Statistics data for March show private payroll jobs dropping by 19,200 from the year earlier ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, April 20, 2009

    Common Sense for Mayoral Candidates: Economic Development

    Policy Brief
    An electronic publication of
    The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy

    April 17,2009 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, April 14, 2009

    Common Sense for Mayoral Candidates: Legacy Costs

    Legacy costs–pensions, retiree health care, general obligation debt, and long-term workers' compensation liabilities–hang like a millstone around the City's neck. Consider these numbers ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, April 08, 2009

    Common Sense for Mayoral Candidates: Education Policy

    A good public school system can be, and often is, an important factor in the overall economic success of a city. At the same time, one thing is certain; bad school systems chase people with school ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, April 07, 2009

    Government Wage Mandate Squeezes Low Income Homebuyers

    In an attempt to revitalize some of Pittsburgh's declining neighborhoods, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), in conjunction with neighborhood community organizations are embarking on a project ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, April 06, 2009

    Common Sense for Mayoral Candidates: Taxes and Spending

    Prior to 2004, the City's tax and spending plans were almost entirely under the direction of successive City Councils and Mayoral administrations. The City, like all home rule municipalities, had to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, April 01, 2009

    Recession Comes to Pittsbsurgh

    After a valiant struggle through most of 2008 to elude the clutches of the recession that has hammered the nation's economy, the Pittsburgh region now appears to have fallen victim to full fledged ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, March 30, 2009

    Common Sense for Mayoral Candidates

    This year, Pittsburgh voters will cast ballots for the office of Mayor. The four year term will last until the beginning of 2014.

    What will the City look like then? It is very ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 25, 2009

    Stimulus Spending on Schools in Inept Public Policy

    States and school districts across the country are salivating at the prospect of receiving Federal money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, more commonly known as the stimulus bill. ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, March 19, 2009

    Differences in Municipal Taxes and Spending

    As discussions of a City-County merger continue and issues surrounding local economic competitiveness are always a concern, it is worthwhile to examine the taxing and spending levels of the region's ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, March 10, 2009

    Allegheny Institute

    A City Ranking That Won't Get Much Attention

    In 2007 Pittsburgh was rated as "America's Most Livable City" (Places Rated Almanac), and this past January it was crowned as the 6th best city in "Top Ten Places Where They are ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, March 05, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Casino Led Renaissance?

    Speaking at the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership's annual meeting, Mayor Ravenstahl told his audience that 2008 building permits for large-scale projects ($10 million or greater) showed that ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, February 26, 2009

    Regulators Dredging up Trouble for Western PA

    Pennsylvania's Fish and Boat Commission is planning to expand the threatened and endangered species list to include five new freshwater mussels. By so doing they will effectively halt sand and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, February 16, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Fiscal Irresponsibility Reigns in Pittsburgh as Well as in Washington

    Despite the stumbling economy and rising concerns over government budget shortfalls, political leaders are still planning to throw substantial sums of taxpayer money at projects that should be built ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, February 12, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    PA's largest municipal pension plans in serious trouble

    New data from the state's Public Employee Retirement Commission (PERC) provides the 2007 actuarial valuations and other related statistics (membership, number of plans, etc.) on Pennsylvania's local ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, February 06, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Proposal to Consolodate School Districts is a Distraction

    The Governor's recent budget message had a proposal that is cause for concern. He wants to explore the possibility of consolidating the state's 500 school districts to something he thinks is more ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, February 03, 2009

    Merger Advocates Need Better Arguments

    Proponents of merging the governments of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County claim the county's numerous municipalities hinder economic growth. Recently a local advocate said, "We know businesses ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, January 28, 2009

    Port Authority's Convenient Memory Loss

    In an effort to explain the recent revelation that the North Shore Connector would need another $117.8 million to complete–bringing the total cost to $553 million–a Port Authority (PAT) ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, January 22, 2009

    Proposal to Lease Parking to Fund Pensions Raises Opportunities, Questions

    Seeking a major infusion of cash for the City's three pension plans, the Mayor of Pittsburgh has proposed leasing parking facilities owned by the City's Parking Authority. The Mayor is to be ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, January 20, 2009

    $533 Million and Counting for PAT's Big Dig

    We knew it was coming. The folks at the Port Authority (PAT) have now admitted what everyone has known for some time: $435 million will not be enough to complete Allegheny County's biggest boondoggle ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, January 14, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Why the Surge in Pittsburg Region's Labor Force?

    The Pittsburgh MSA (metro area) labor force showed surprisingly strong gains in 2008 following a four year period (2003 to 2007) in which the region's labor force actually fell by over 15,000, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, January 06, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    The Pathetic State of the Pittsburgh Public School District

    Problems for the Pittsburgh Public School District continue to mount. For the current school year enrollment is 26,649, declining more than 1,600 students from the previous year. Moreover, the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, December 22, 2008

    Science Test Scores Paint a Disturbing Picture of Education

    It is a constant refrain: Our children must do better in science and math if the nation hopes to compete effectively in the 21st century. Sadly, if recently released (2008) science test scores of ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, December 19, 2008

    Allegheny County Headed to Court over Plan to Spend Drink Taxes

    So now it begins. Yet another lawsuit has been filed against Allegheny County for violating or getting ready to violate state law. As we wrote in an earlier Policy Brief (Volume 8, Number 55), the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, December 11, 2008

    Allegheny Institute:

    PAT Bus Service Still Has the Highest Employee Costs in the Nation

    As a backdrop to Port Authority (PAT) labor negotiations it is useful to remember how costly bus service is in Allegheny County. In 2007, the latest year of available Federal Transit Administration ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, December 09, 2008

    Card Check Will Worsen Pittsburgh's Competitive Disadvantage

    Two of the most important economic and demographic developments over the past twenty years or so have been the movement of people away from the Northern and North central states to Right to Work ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, December 04, 2008

    Allegheny Institute:

    Little Cheer for Taxpayers in Transit Contract

    If the Port Authority (PAT) and Local 85 of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) agree to sign off on a tentative agreement that will set contract terms through 2012, the two parties will be walking ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, December 03, 2008

    Allegheny Institute:

    Time to Outlaw Transit Strikes in PA

    While the terms of a new contract agreement between the Port Authority and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 have yet to be approved by either the Board or the drivers, many passengers, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, November 20, 2008

    Allegheny Institute:

    Tallying Recent Teacher Strikes Across the Nation

    Newsflash: Pennsylvania maintains its long held number one ranking as the state with the most teacher strikes. During the period beginning with school year 2000-2001 and running through school year ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, November 14, 2008

    Pittsburgh's Budget: Legacy Costs Have Large and Lasting Impact

    For the 2009 budget and the years beyond, legacy costs–pensions, retiree health care, workers' compensation, and debt–will dominate the discussion about taxes, spending, the level of ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, November 11, 2008

    Policy Brief:

    Adding Up the Costs of Pittsburgh School District's Failures

    Pittsburgh Public Schools face serious problems–high per pupil spending (almost $20,000) and a rapidly declining enrollment (18 percent in the last four years) –that are seemingly ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, November 06, 2008

    Promises, Promises

    Here's a stunner. Based on the 2008 general fund budget of $526.6 million and a September enrollment of 26,649, the Pittsburgh Public Schools are spending at a rate of $19,796 per student. This in a ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, October 27, 2008

    Socking it to the Airlines at Pittsburgh International

    Policy Brief
    An electronic publication of
    The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy

    October 27, 2008 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 22, 2008

    Analyzing the Talk About a Transit Shutdown

    For months we have been watching a marathon bargaining impasse between the County Executive and the Port Authority Board on one side and the Amalgamated Transit workers on the other. The impasse is ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, October 16, 2008

    Allegheny Institute:

    The Great Transit Tax Grab of 2008

    In a stunning stretch of logic and reason, the County Executive–the same County Executive who has gone to great lengths to convince the public that new taxes on drinks and car rentals were ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 08, 2008

    Ending the Tax Referendum Legal Dispute

    Who has the power to set tax rates in a home rule community? A definitive answer to that question will go a long way in determining who retains ultimate sovereignty in communities that have adopted ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, October 07, 2008

    More Self-Congratulatory Blather About PA Job Picture

    The Governor remains optimistic about Pennsylvania's job situation. He compares employment changes in the Commonwealth to the nation as a whole and notes in the August Employment Report that ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, September 29, 2008

    Uncovering the True Cost of Government Retiree Benefits

    State and local governments across the nation are coming face to face with the true cost of post-retirement benefits thanks to an accounting rule change mandated by the Governmental Accounting ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, September 19, 2008

    Allegheny Institute

    Failed Attempt to Toll I-80 Costly to Taxpayers

    The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) rejected the plan to toll Interstate 80. Tolling I-80 was the linchpin of Pennsylvania's transportation funding under Act 44 and was to provide funds for ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, September 15, 2008

    Allegheny Institute:

    A Stacked Deck Favors the Transit Union

    When one party to a negotiation, because of law and prior experience, holds all the metaphorical high cards, it is child's play to predict who will come out on top in the bargaining process. Such is ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, September 12, 2008

    Allegheny Institute:

    Drink Tax Referenda Questions: Ballot Incompatible

    Presently weaving their way through the courts, the dueling referenda questions on the County's drink tax could both end up on the November ballot. But as our analysis shows that should not be ...

    [View Full Article]

Featured Columnists
Featured Audio Links