CP photo by Ryan Deto
Bill Peduto (center) at March 21 round table discussing tax cuts
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has never been a fan of President Donald Trump. In June 2017, when Trump announced the U.S. would be leaving the Paris Climate Accords
by saying, “I was elected by voters of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” Peduto clapped back. “As the Mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy & future,” he tweeted in response to Trump’s announcement.
And now, additional Trump-backed plans
and announcements have raised Peduto's ire. On March 21, as part of a nationwide tour, the progressive coalition Not One Penny
visited Pittsburgh to discuss the effects the recently passed tax-cut bill
will have on Pittsburgh. Peduto took issue with that bill, but also with Trump’s budget proposal.
Trump’s proposed budget would make significant cuts to Community Development Block Grant funds (which help low-income neighborhoods build new development projects). Trump also has proposed cuts to funds associated with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation. Peduto said Pittsburgh and small rural towns in Southwestern Pennsylvania are reliant on these funds and that economic inequality
could be exacerbated without their continuation.
“Look at the cities and places where disparities are increasing,” said Peduto. “These funds are necessary.”
Peduto also expressed consternation that the tax cuts could negatively affect Pittsburgh's economy. According to nonpartisan budget analyses, the tax cuts will add more than $1 trillion to the national debt
. Some Republicans, like Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey
(R-Lehigh) have indicated that reforming publicly subsidized health-care plans like Medicare could fill that budget gap. Peduto says that if Medicare
is cut, it could hurt the region’s hospitals, which provide the most jobs of any sector in the region.
“Cuts to our health care will have negative effects on the economy of Southwestern Pennsylvania,” said Peduto. “There are three times as many people working at UPMC hospitals in our region than there are steelworkers working in the entire state.”
Peduto also criticized Trump’s infrastructure proposal
, which asks municipalities to invest 80 percent of the total cost of a project, with the federal government contributing the remaining 20 percent.
Peduto noted that cities used to have to contribute just 20 percent for infrastructure projects, and said Pittsburgh “will never be able to come up with 80 percent” for large infrastructure projects. He added that without the guaranteed money from the federal government, Pittsburgh won't be able to make necessary repairs to the 29th Street bridge in Polish Hill, the South Negley bridge in Shadyside, the Panther Hollow bridge in Oakland, and other infrastructure projects throughout the city.
Peduto said Pittsburgh and other towns with financial struggles would have to pass tax increases in order to pay for infrastructure improvements and to provide many basic services. He said this could increase inequality since financially strapped municipalities tend to have a larger low-income population.
“The city would have to raise taxes,” said Peduto. “It would affect cities with urban poor and the rural poor and compound the problems there.”