Councilwoman Rudiak delivered these remarks at a press conference this morning, before Council.
I was talking to a teacher from Carrick High School at an education fair in Carrick last week; he was lamenting how Carrick had more students than last year, however there were fewer teachers because of the furloughs caused by cuts in state funding.
I have talked to the executive director of our local senior center, fretting about the future viability of the center in the face of human service funding cuts, a center where some seniors receive their only meal of the day.
I have talked with individuals who have been one of the 400,000 people on the waiting list for AdultBASIC medical services for years, only to see their place in line disappear because of the astonishing lack of compassion and wisdom by our state leaders.
Yet, here we are, gathered to talk about a bill that has nothing to do with serving the needs of everyday Pennsylvanians, and everything to do with lining the pocketbooks of our largest businesses.
We are here to talk about Senate Bill 4, and two things about that bill.
1) State legislature and its lack of care for public process
2) Why this bill is bad for all Pennsylvanians
Senate Bill 4 and its companion in the house are moving swiftly through the Pennsylvania legislature-- without a public hearing, without data about the impact on local communities, and without the transparency we need to fully understand the issue.
This bill passed through the finance and appropriations committees in the senate, and the finance committee in the house. This bill could be up before the entire legislature as soon as next week. There are proclamations for Eagle Scouts that have more public airing than this bill!
The Hospital Association and certain lawmakers would rather this bill pass without a single peep from teh public. We are talking about a change to the Pennsylvania Constitution-- surely this deserves some conversation.
Let's talk for a moment about the bill.
Senate Bill 4-- introduced in February-- would throw the power to determine a purely public charity to the state legislature, effectively perpetuating the trend of mega-charities reducing their payments to communities while increasing their real estate footprint.
In 1997, the legislature passed Act 55 to define what a charity was, in the process, LOWERING the threshold and allowing huge "mega-charities" to grow without the threat of losing their tax-exempt status. Now the Hospital Association and other "mega-charities" are at it again in an attempt to preserve their status and their huge revenues at the expense of middle class taxpayers.
Pittsburgh is not the only community facing this issue, and I hope that this Will of Council serves as a model for communities across the Commonwealth. We are joining the State Association of Township Commissions, the School Board Association, and the Pennsylvania Municipal League to condemn the impact this will have on the budgets of communities all across the commonwealth.
We have expectations for a purely public charity. We expect that they advance a charitable purpose. We expect that they donate a substantial portion of their services. We expect that they benefit people who are in need of charity. We expect that they relieve the government of some of its burden. And most significantly, we expect that it operates entirely free from private profit motive.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
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