Proof of government doofosity.


Today, Lukey is going to city council to propose a new 1% tax that will be levied on the tuition of students that attend college in the city of Pittsburgh.  The money generated from this tax will go toward funding the city’s underfunded pension, and some toward the libraries.

And all I can think is this:

Lukey, UPMC, and the city schools have been begging nonprofits, corporations, and people like you and I to give to the Pittsburgh Promise to provide tuition dollars for students to go to college in Pennsylvania.  Now, Lukey wants to turn around and tell some of those same kids, “Uh, yeah, here’s some money for college.  Now give some of it back to me because I’m taxing your butt now.”

The city of Pittsburgh has finally run out of things to tax when not only is Lukey looking to tax skyrocketing, completely-unaffordable-as-it-is-tuition, but in trying to sell it to you says:

“We don’t believe that [1 percent] is too burdensome on college students,” Mr. Ravenstahl said.

Right.  Because when you’re taking out loans in the tens and tens of thousands of dollars, working two jobs, putting your parents further into debt, eating Ramen noodles three meals a day, dying inside when you have to pay $150 for one stinking math book, all so you can pay tuition that this year is 5% more than last year and then spend the next 15 years paying off loans, hell, what’s another $300 a year?

This mentality is why Allegheny County managed to pass the drink tax while having ridiculously high property taxes.  This “what’s a hundred or three hundred dollars here and there and here and there and here and oh yeah, over there, and don’t forget right here this thing under this rock that we haven’t taxed yet” mentality.

How long before our local politicians realize that all those drops of taxes in the bucket have turned into an ocean whose tide is going to sweep our residents right out of the city and off to greener, less-taxed pastures?

Here’s an idea.  Audit the library system like you mean it and find out why, REALLY why they’re in the position they are.  Don’t put a band-aid on the wound.  Find out what’s causing the bleeding.  And while you’re at it, city, don’t even expect a single one of us to believe there isn’t a gross, gross waste of taxpayer dollars happening on Grant Street.  Shall I remind you of the quarter of a million dollars spent on 250 trash cans?

City, HEAL THYSELF before taxing your people.

This tax is a horrible idea and I’m trusting City Council to kick it in the nads.


UPDATE: Lukey calls this a tax on “the privilege” of attending college in Pittsburgh.  As I write in the comments:

Another thing Lukey and City Council need to grasp, and this is a TRUTH, forget the students being “privileged” to attend college in Pittsburgh, how about the fact that when students attend college in Pittsburgh, stay in Pittsburgh, work in Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh is gifted with an educated workforce and thereby a larger tax-base.

God. How dumb this is. I’m feeling stabbity now.

[awkward kung fu moves]

If you think my cute little fist-shaking is bad, you should see me when I go Kung Fu Panda on something. Not pretty, people. Not pretty.


  1. pghgeorge
    November 9, 2009 11:30 am

    I agree 1%.
    and 1% here.
    and 1% there…
    and 1% back there…
    and 1% under that rock.
    etc. etc. etc.

  2. pghgeorge
    November 9, 2009 11:33 am

    …”privilege of getting a higher education in the city of Pittsburgh” is what I heard on the news this morning. Every now and then, I’ll bark colorful obscenities at the TV in the morning. More so than when I watch a Steeler’s game.

  3. Arex
    November 9, 2009 11:34 am

    Unbelievable. Thanks for sharing, as I didn’t hear about this. You’re completely on the mark. Do you know if this applies to Graduate school, as well?

  4. bluzdude
    November 9, 2009 11:36 am

    Don’t look now but you might have just given them a new idea… The Ramen Noodle Tax.

    “Hey, it’s only 20 cents anyway… who’s going to mind a 25% surtax?”

  5. Bob
    November 9, 2009 11:39 am

    Amen, sista!

  6. Pensgirl
    November 9, 2009 11:40 am

    I was lucky and only needed loans for graduate school. I was also lucky in that my parents took me in during that time so I wouldn’t have to pay living expenses. All of my loans were Stafford, none private. Even with those breaks, I still have a 30-year student loan repayment plan.

    If they don’t think kids will choose other schools because of this tax, they are soooo wrong.

  7. Dana
    November 9, 2009 11:41 am

    As a college student who will graduate with about $30,000 of debt, I can say that a 1% tax is 1% too high.

  8. Dana
    November 9, 2009 11:42 am

    And also, is this even legal? Most students aren’t residents of the city. Can you tax non-residents?

  9. Miss Lee
    November 9, 2009 11:42 am

    Virtually everyone I know is either in school, is saving for school, or has kids in school.

    From a popularity-standpoint, Lukey might as well propose a tax on the pain medication for sick puppies.

  10. Heather
    November 9, 2009 11:44 am

    “Privilege” Really? It’s already my privilege as a city resident to pay my property tax, my “I work in the city” tax, a drink tax, etc. Now you want me to pay for the privilege of trying to better myself. What’s next?

  11. ca
    November 9, 2009 11:45 am

    This is a crazy proposal! I own a home in the City and considering going to graduate school. Do they realize that students also pay taxes to the city?

    Call Mayor Ravenstahl’s office to complain about the proposed Student Tax! 412-255-2626

  12. Meghan
    November 9, 2009 11:45 am

    He is such an ass! How did he win the election????

  13. Bram R
    November 9, 2009 11:46 am

    Egads! Wonky!

    Council’s gonna pass this I’m 97% sure. Theoretically next year’s council with its two new young and still independent members (Lavelle and Rudiak) might have been prepared to kick some nads, but it’s not next year yet.

  14. spoon
    November 9, 2009 11:52 am

    My jaw almost hit the ground when I saw that in the PG this morning.

    “We don’t believe that [1 percent] is too burdensome on college students,”
    WHAT! I was rolling pennies at one point just to get by in college.

    Question I have is, can he tax online universities that are based in Pittsburgh like the art institute?

  15. Carpetbagger
    November 9, 2009 11:55 am

    This comes from a regressive mentality that assumes that all college kids come from rich families with so much money that they will never notice another 1%.

    It’s a mentality that is always in search of another way to steal a dollar from a struggling Peter in a dire effort to rescusitate a dying Paul.

    What’s missing is a progressive mentality that says, “Maybe we shouldn’t reem the people we’re trying to attract to our city so that they might stay and find jobs here.”

    Ug, it hasn’t even been a week into a new term.

  16. Sexy Jesus
    November 9, 2009 11:57 am

    You don’t understand, Luke won this election with a clear mandate! He can make the unpopular calls because he garnered 55% of the vote in a town that is 80-85% registered Democrats … ummm, nevermind.

  17. pghgeorge
    November 9, 2009 11:59 am

    How about taxing people to be stupid?

  18. PSUmama
    November 9, 2009 12:01 pm

    This is, by far, the dumbest move of Lukey’s tenure as mayor. Sure, go ahead and tax students. See how long they stay in Pittsburgh after graduation. If they can afford to graduate.
    My son will be 16 years old when my husband and I finally finish paying our student loans. When are we supposed to save for his tuition? Plus 1%?
    Of ALL of the things to raise the cost of he chooses already skyrocketing college tuition?!? He should continue simply HELPING students, not pretending to help and then taxing them. Perhaps he took this page from Slick Eddie Rendell’s book. Students? Who needs students? Cut their funding! Oooh! And then we can TAX THEM!
    Lukey, this is what we could call “moving backward.”

  19. PG Wodehouse
    November 9, 2009 12:02 pm

    We already have a stupid people tax. It’s called the lottery.

  20. Sexy Jesus
    November 9, 2009 12:05 pm

    I also find it interesting that Lukey’s alma mater is outside the city. I wonder if he would be so eager if he had attended CMU … ha! Luke at CMU. Just made myself laugh.

  21. Virginia
    November 9, 2009 12:09 pm

    Another thing Lukey and City Council need to grasp, and this is a TRUTH, forget the students being “privileged” to attend college in Pittsburgh, how about the fact that when students attend college in Pittsburgh, stay in Pittsburgh, work in Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh is gifted with an educated workforce and thereby a larger tax-base.

    God. How dumb this is. I’m feeling stabbity now.

    [awkward kung fu moves]

  22. Chris P
    November 9, 2009 12:20 pm

    pffft … way to alienate the young voters dufus

  23. bucdaddy
    November 9, 2009 12:21 pm

    Those of you looking at repaying years and years of student loans really need to look into this:

    Reminds me to perter my grad school daughter again about signing up.

  24. Matt
    November 9, 2009 12:24 pm

    Actually, according to Luke, it’s just a tax on those notoriously unruly CMU students: “When Carnegie Mellon students spend their Friday night on the South Side, they get a little rowdy and Councilman Krauss calls police break them up, who pays the bill?” Ravenstahl told the council. “I wish we didn’t have to do this, but we have no choice,” he later told Mayo. So, if it weren’t for those crazy CMU grad students on crystal meth blowing up their biophysics labs, all the rest of the young scholars in Pittsburgh could avoid this harassment.

  25. Sesquipedalian Prose
    November 9, 2009 12:25 pm

    Yet another reason I want to live as close to Pittsburgh without actually living IN Allegheny County.

  26. Tim
    November 9, 2009 12:36 pm

    This is a quote from the P-G story… “College and university representatives met with the mayor on Wednesday and argued against the tax, which would be assessed on a college student’s tuition. It technically would not be a levy on the students or their schools, but rather on the privilege of getting a higher education in Pittsburgh.”

    WHAT???????????? Please . . . explain that I must be stupid. Not “technically” a levy on the student or the college? Who is it a levy on then . . . just so when my son has to borrow this extra $240 from Sallie Mae to pay it.

  27. TrolleyRider
    November 9, 2009 12:44 pm

    You’ll have a lot of extra cash laying around because you won’t be paying your property taxes this year. Wait, we aren’t paying property taxes this year…right? I mean, the casino is open now and I was told when that opened we were done with property taxes…

  28. Old North Sider
    November 9, 2009 12:51 pm

    I am gonna pay for the Mayor’s new tatoo — as long as it says DUMB ASS and is emblazoned across his forehead.

    Could it be that Forrest Gump was thinking of our young, savvy Mayor when he said, “Stupid is as stupid does”?

    Our boy Mayor just doesn’t get it — maybe he will understand the stupidity of his latest proposal when baby Cooper is college bound & he choses WVU. I wonder if the Pittsburgh Promise will cover the educational privelege tax as part of their scholarship package?

    Lukey is giving a bad name to North Catholic grads — most are not that dumb.

  29. KGC
    November 9, 2009 12:59 pm


    Typical Democrat response to a problem – tax your way out. Lukey and his liberal Democrats don’t have the nads to CUT pensions or CUT certain programs.

  30. D
    November 9, 2009 1:08 pm

    Amen. This is exactly why I live in Washington County. The city and county will never learn…

  31. Kacie
    November 9, 2009 1:13 pm

    I’ve lived in Pittsburgh for about 2.5 years. I was astonished at the wage tax letter that showed up in my mailbox. I thought it was a hoax!

    And then, when I discovered how astronomical property taxes are here, and how there’s a huge mess with them in the courts and they could potentially go up in some areas …

    Yeah. I can’t afford to buy a house here.

    I’m probably going to move back to Indiana (the state, not the frickin’ county) to be closer to family and to be able to buy a nice 3-4 bedroom house and only pay $1,000 – $1,500/year in property taxes and no wage tax.

    It’s a shame, because I really like Pittsburgh. I’ll miss it.

  32. cathy
    November 9, 2009 1:26 pm

    Notice he didn’t put this out there last week then he might have lost the election. How about a tax on the colleges profits? By the way I am a liberal and a democrat and I have never voted for the idiot.
    “You don’t understand, Luke won this election with a clear mandate! He can make the unpopular calls because he garnered 55% of the vote in a town that is 80-85% registered Democrats … ummm, nevermind.” 55% of a 23% turn out about 12% of the population what a mandate…

  33. kelly c
    November 9, 2009 1:28 pm

    isn’t this just the first tax? he said he also wanted to tax hospital beds (patients who have the privilege of getting sick and spending time in local hospitals).

    get er dun

  34. red pen mama
    November 9, 2009 1:53 pm

    My brain is doing some weird kind of denial thing where it keeps going, “That can’t be right.” I mean, that just can’t be right.

    I’ll bet a lot more people in the city are wishing they showed up to vote last week. I’ll bet a lot more people (like me) in Allegheny County are wishing we had had a crack at voting against Lukey.

    Still thinking, ‘well, that’s just not right. Right?”


  35. RyanC882
    November 9, 2009 1:55 pm

    Great post. This is exactly the problem with Pittsburgh. The gov taxes people a bit here and a bit there, and you end up with huge taxes that drive people and jobs away. They should put a sign on those $250 trash cans that reads, “put your hard earned money here.”

  36. Chase
    November 9, 2009 1:57 pm

    Well so much for grad school at Point Park.

  37. Kelly
    November 9, 2009 1:57 pm

    A friend of mine brought up a great point. Why a percent based tax instead of a flat tax? Do CMU students use more city resources than Pitt students? I don’t think so.

  38. Natalie
    November 9, 2009 1:58 pm

    This action by luke and his cohorts is highly upsetting to me and i agree with everything you wrote… i graduated from pitt and still work at the university and on top of that full time job i work two additional jobs as i try to dig out of school loan payments because like many college students i paid my own way through school… every 1% counts when your living day to day and still trying to better yourself by gaining a college degree… luke needs to tax himself first before the “privileged” youths that are more often than not more motivated than anything else…

  39. Dan (Not Onarato)
    November 9, 2009 2:02 pm

    Well THAT didnt take long…less than a week after the election.

    I dont get it…I just dont get it

    Good post Ginny

  40. Jordan
    November 9, 2009 2:15 pm

    Since I am in the “privileged” group that does attend a Pittsburgh schoo, I saw screw you Lukey. What is another couple of hundred dollars on the tens of thousands of dollars I already have on loan? Um a freaking lot. I’ll pay that 1% if you fill in the freaking pot holes that swallow my entire car on my street. Lukey is a reason why I want to leave the Pittsburgh area… and the pigeons.

  41. jrs3usc93
    November 9, 2009 2:23 pm

    Every time I really start to miss Pittsburgh and think about moving back – something like this happens. The state I live in is crazy, but we aren’t taxed to death.

  42. Kristin
    November 9, 2009 2:29 pm

    Dear Lukey:

    I am a lifelong resident of Allegheny County. I work full time in the city proper. I am a single woman. I pay over 15k a year for the “privilege” of attending Point Park and bettering myself – full time, while working full time. I expect to be paying off my student loans for a very, very long time. I think you had better look up the definition of “privilege” one more time.

    Also: screw you. I may move across the city line just for the opportunity to vote against you.

    Now go on and hurry up with your grandpa had a heart attack tax.

  43. Joann
    November 9, 2009 2:31 pm

    So who paid for little lukey to go to school? Obvioulsy not he or his family or they’d still be paying on his loans. It must have taken him more than the usual 4 years to get through some of those tougher subjects along the math and government subjects. He’s a FOOL!

  44. Greg
    November 9, 2009 2:35 pm

    Hey… you think that’s bad? Wait and see what happens if Dan-Dan-The-Tax-Man gets elected Governor.

    His drink tax was “needed” to raise, what? 30 mill? It raised something like 70 mill? Then he fought over using the surplus money… and now has to raise fares next year?

  45. Carpetbagger
    November 9, 2009 2:37 pm

    UPDATE FROM THE PG: Calling it “The Fair Share Tax,” Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl today said that if Pittsburgh City Council agrees to slap a 1 percent levy on college tuition bills, “our financial recovery will be complete.”

    Woo-hoo. That’s it. We’re done. Pass this tax, slap Pittsburgh on the head, and shout “Be healed!” Luke has healed the city. The libraries are back, the potholes are filled, the bridges are repaired, the unemployed are working, and somewhere, an angel got his wings!

    Thank you students of Pittsburgh.

    Oh, then Luke was quoted as saying, “Let them eat Pierogies.”

  46. YinzerInExile
    November 9, 2009 2:37 pm

    Although I am as the moniker implies, currently exiled, I can honestly say that as a professional student with upwards of $90,000 in graduate/residual undergrad loans, this stupid, sniggling 1% would have totally made me look elsewhere if I’d been considering Pittsburgh colleges to be the recipient of those $90K+ tuition dollars. Because that’s like, what? An extra $9K (none of my degrees is in math)??? Do you know how much Ramen I could buy with that?? Or how many Kias??

    This is the most egregiously stupid and ire-inducing potential tax I’ve ever heard of . . .

  47. Mark
    November 9, 2009 2:37 pm

    Wow, 1% “privilege” to learn in Pittsburgh. Can we think of any more ideas to drive people away from attending school in Pittsburgh? Good thing I graduate in December. Point Park has all ready charged me for the “privilege” of attending their school. This is another reason why people leave Pittsburgh. We look for band-aids, as Ginny said, not solutions. Just like the idea of the commuter tax. If that happens I will be looking for a job outside the city.

  48. West Coast Burgher
    November 9, 2009 2:38 pm

    I think Lukey is a misplaced Californian! That’s the exact same problem they’re having on a statewide level out here. I think he needs to talk to the Governator to see how well “tax, spend, and tax some more” has been working.

  49. MN
    November 9, 2009 2:38 pm

    That’s why live 1 mile into Washington County…Pittsburgh’s taxes are INSANE! (I’ve lived in 9 states)
    You get what you elect, people!