Pillaging and Plundering of PA Public not a Plus for Pittsburgh

The Allegheny Institute highlights another failure of corporate welfare to stimulate economic growth. Back in 1998, the politically-appointed RAD board voted to force taxpayers to contribute $809 million towards the building of Heinz Field and PNC Park. Rationalized as ways to save Pittsburgh’s economy, local leaders applauded the proposal.

Fast-forward a little over a decade and we see:

Pittsburgh’s population has continued to fall, dropping by 23,000 from 2000 to 2009; and from June 2000 to June 2010 the number of City residents holding jobs is down by 7,600. Inflation adjusted earned income, as measured by taxes paid to the City and accounting for the 25 percent rise in the tax rate, has fallen by 18 percent-assuming inflation averaged 2.5 percent annually over the period. In the meantime, school enrollment has plunged from 38,560 to around 26,000, a stunning 32 percent decline.

Doesn’t sound like economic revitalization to me. So now taxpayers are stuck with paying $25 million a year in debt payments, while their city continues to loose population, and their baseball team completes it’s 18-season-long losing streak.

But there is a silver lining — the corporate welfare did prove to be an economic stimulus for the owners of the Pirates franchise. With a cool $34 million in profits over the past three years, it is among the most profitable teams in the league.

Maybe they should throw a bit of that taxpayer money back into making the team competitive with the rest of the baseball.