Apparently Mark DeSantis released his plan for Pittsburgh’s Financial Recovery today. This one seemed like a quiet release to me. I had to search on “DeSantis” on the PG website at lunch time to find an article on it, though it was (is) front and center on the “DeSantis for Mayor” website.
In the introduction for his plan, DeSantis suggests that the Mayor's five year plan is heading the city into bankruptcy. Considering that the Mayor seems to be expecting the state to bail out the pension and possibly the debt issues, he might have a point.
DeSantis' plan is divided into six parts, which I will just highlight. First is an annual 1% reduction in spending, second is doing more with less as a culture, third is merging as much city and county services as possible, fourth is auctioning off city owned properties (those tax lien things), fifth is reducing pension liabilities and debt and six is reducing business taxes.
A lot of these ideas would not survive contact with city council. In the real world, a republican mayor would have to make some compromises. But these proposals may help DeSantis raise money for his campaign, because they will appeal to the business community (even the part, or maybe particularly the part about not going bankrupt).
To say the plans seems draconian seems inadequate. Actually, I overstate a bit, but I can’t imagine any city workers cheering at this budget, although it does promise no layoffs. Instead, DeSantis suggests a hiring freeze, and using attrition to “rightsize” the city workforce. City workers would end up working harder and would see smaller raises than under Ravenstahl. I suspect that some slots would be refilled no matter what, but I also believe DeSantis has a better chance at making this work than a democrat like the current Mayor would. DeSantis is also proposing lowering some taxes starting in 2011, to improve the business climate in the city. That’s tricky in a city like ours, with so much debt, but we need to do something besides having our Mayor go on Letterman to promote the city.
Again, there is not a PDF available, but the cut and pasted press release ran 7 pages in Word. Certainly better than either the Mayor’s campaign website, or his pseudo campaign site; www.city.pittsburgh.pa.us.