(Pittsburgh) November 15, 2018 “We may never truly know whether the tax
incentives proposed as part of Pittsburgh’s Amazon bid would have resulted in
greater costs or benefits for our residents. But today’s belated release of the
proposal should begin a much-needed dialogue on the desirability and potential
for effectiveness of this type of economic development strategy. We should seek
a broad array of expert views on the likely impact and effects of this proposal
had it gone forward, and what these would mean for our neighborhoods and
residents. We also must resolve that in the future similar proposals be
developed with public input, not hidden from view until after the decisions are
“Amazon or no Amazon, public investments to benefit our residents must be made: transit, affordable housing, early childhood education, water infrastructure, and more. On this score, the giant, untaxed, corporate-style operation already in our midst cannot be ignored. It is time to tax the ‘Amazon of healthcare,’ UPMC, in order to contribute to these vital priorities.
“Studies from earlier this decade indicated that ending UPMC’s questionable tax-exempt status would raise about $30 million annually for the City and County, and these numbers have doubtlessly risen significantly as UPMC has grown, even as healthcare costs rise and access is cut off to many in our region. Meanwhile, the promise of ‘payments in lieu of taxes’ has been held out to our citizens time and again like Lucy’s football.
“Investments in those who already call our City and County home are long overdue, and we can no longer afford to look past the massive untapped resource for public investment that already exists.”