Two weeks ago Mayor Luke Ravenstahl took to Harrisburg his hard-fought, freshly won financial recovery agreement. Although Pittsburgh's state overseers and City Council approved the five-year plan of tight budget limits and revenue raisers, key elements must still be OK'd by the Legislature before they can take effect.
The response from the region's lawmakers? Wait until the state budget crisis is solved.
Sorry, but that's no answer.
Philadelphia, which is facing considerable financial turmoil, is not waiting. It is pushing House and Senate members for action on its needs - now - while the debate over the state budget is hot. Pittsburgh's Act 47 plan should be part of the same discussion.
While Philadelphia is facing a $1.4 billion deficit in its five-year financial plan and seeking legislative authorization for a one-cent increase in its local sales tax plus changes in its pension fund, Pittsburgh's needs are more modest. All it wants to do under the new Act 47 recovery plan is expand the business payroll tax to include nonprofit institutions or increase the $52 tax on those who work in the city to $145.
The General Assembly can give Pittsburgh the ability to do that, which will stave off more painful alternatives within the city's power - putting surcharges on college students, hospital admissions, all-day parking and nonprofits that use city water. But first the Allegheny County delegation must tell their Philly counterparts that there's no deal for the East without a deal for the West - and that any state budget accord is on ice, too.
Isn't that how good legislation is made?