A State Senate Democratic Policy Committee Meeting on tax-exempt properties occurred in The South Side today.
The hearing was held to discuss a bill sponsored by Senator Wayne Fontana that would allow municipal government to impose am "essential services fee" on tax-exempt organizations such as universities and non-profits within the municipality.
Among those that testified were Dr. Jared Cohen, President of Carnegie Mellon University. He spoke on behalf of the city's universities and of the numerous financial and cultural contributions they make to the region. He said if such a fee were imposed, the universities would have to raise tuition or cut back on research. Diana Bucco, President of The Forbes Fund, an umbrella group for the region's non-profits said the non-profits on the region provide such necessary services to the people of the region on limited budgets they might have to cut back perhaps. Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl who in November tried to get a one percent tuition tax to generate $15 million a year to bolster the city's pension fund. He said he supports this bill and it could be a state-wide solution to the pension problem.
Seven state legislators were present at the hearing.