Five of the nine members of the Pittsburgh City Council are in Harrisburg today talking to lawmakers about matching the state’s priorities with the city’s priorities. Among the delegation is Councilman Doug Shields. He says meetings have been held with members of all four caucuses but not the governor.
Most of the discussion has center on the state’s budget. Shields says the members of the legislature have yet to see Governor Tom Corbett’s budget blueprint but it is clear that funding for cities and municipalities will be tight. He says the only bright spot is that state revenues seem to be slowly climbing as the economy begins to recover. The city’s delegation is also trying to point out to the state how much has improved financially for the city in the last few years.
Shields says he has also spent some time talking to lawmakers about statewide pension reform. He says for now, the issue is on the back burner and will not come up for debate in the first half of the year. Shields also spent some time talking about Marcellus Shale issues but says he has remained focused mostly on budget priorities.
Shields says in general the trip has been productive. He says if nothing else it has been successful in allowing city and state leaders to build relationships. “It is very difficult to have to grapple with what we have to do, in good times and in bad, even with people you known,” says Shields, “there are a lot of new faces on the council in the past three years and also a lot of new faces in Harrisburg so I think it is incredibly important that we meet and get to know one another a little bit.”
Also on the trip was Council President Darlene Harris, council members Bruce Kraus, Daniel Lavelle, and Natalia Rudiak, and Council Budget Director Bill Urbanic. Council’s regular Tuesday meeting was postponed until Wednesday and the Wednesday meeting was moved to Wednesday afternoon.