PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Gov. Tom Corbett went to Mayor Bill Peduto’s office on Thursday to deliver news that Peduto wanted to hear — the state will not yet remove the city from its Act 47 distressed status.
“The city is not yet ready to emerge from Act 47,” the governor said. “While it might have some distance yet to go in this journey, I believe the city is headed in the right direction.”
Peduto hailed the governor’s decision, saying it gave the city tools to avoid tax increases.
“One of the biggest reasons we want to stay under Act 47 is so we don’t have to increase taxes,” he said. “If you look at the taxes we have in the city of Pittsburgh, our property taxes are at the higher end in Allegheny County, our wage taxes are the third highest in the state of Pennsylvania.”
But public safety unions — who along with former Mayor Ravenstahl favored ending the Act 47 status — say they have borne the brunt of the pain with pay freezes or small hikes in pay.
An angry Firefighters Union President Joe King called the governor’s decision political.
“There’s no reason other than Corbett and Peduto getting together making it a political issue and they can both go to hell,” King told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.
King says firefighters have sacrificed enough and that the mayor wants to use Act 47 to cut pensions.
“Firefighters are not going to abide by no new recovery plan. We have no intentions and we’re not giving anything back,” he added.
The local Fraternal Order of Police said the governor was turning his back on city police.
“It’s a little unbelievable,” noted Michael Benner, the FOP’s vice president. “We had a past administration, the Ravenstahl administration, that asked to get out from under it, that believed that we were currently in good financial situation, and he’s turning his back on us.”
“The governor needs to come in and look at what is really going on in the city,” he said.
Peduto said he understood union leaders fighting for their members, but he represents all the city residents.
“I have not 600 members, or 900 members, but 310,000 members, and I have to fight for them as hard,” Peduto said.