(Pittsburgh) May 30, 2018 Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner issued the following statement regarding the announcement of the Allegheny County Children’s Fund ballot initiative campaign:
“I urge caution following today’s announcement of a campaign to increase County millage. We should first closely examine current spending on Human Services programs to ensure it is being put to the best use. The County contributed $40 million from local taxes in 2017 to secure $189 million in State and Federal funding for Human Services.
Budgets are priorities, and the welfare of our children should be first among them. So it is curious that this proposal is being made outside the County’s budgetary process and outside the purview of our elected officials. County Council should have the opportunity to weigh the needs identified today against current spending. Residents also deserve answers as to why institutions like UPMC remain untaxed even as the general public shoulders more of the burden, including increased rates for lead-contaminated water.
Our County’s recent experiences with specially dedicated funds also warrant caution. I have called attention in recent weeks to the Transit Fund and Housing Fund, each funded by dedicated taxes or fees. These funds have built unutilized balances in the millions despite well-documented needs in the areas they are intended to address. Utilization of the Clean Air Fund has also been called into question by advocates who believe it is being misspent on projects that do little to improve our air quality. A similar outcome for funds meant to ensure the welfare of our children would be terribly distressing.
I urge the advocates of this campaign to follow the democratic process, come before Council for deliberation and debate, and allow a full vetting with ample public input. Let’s give the citizens the facts rather than political campaign messaging.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Lou Takacs, Communications Director