Pittsburgh Councilman and Democratic Mayoral Nominee Bill Peduto is reaching across the aisle — and the state — to bridge the relationship between Pittsburgh and the Capitol.
Peduto spent Monday and Tuesday in Harrisburg for what he called a “relationship-building” visit.
“There hasn’t been that much communication between the city and Harrisburg for the past several years, so I think it’s welcome, but again, at the same time it’s not something that you can just do once, it has to be on a consistent basis,” Peduto said.
Peduto said he discussed Pittsburgh’s possible release from Act 47, which he wants to delay.
Peduto met with Gov. Tom Corbett, his chief of staff Stephen Aichel and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Alan Walker.
Pittsburgh has been under Act 47 state oversight since December 2003.
Though Pittsburgh has made substantial financial progress since being declared a distressed municipality, Peduto doesn’t think the city should be taken off the list until its $700 million unfunded pension liability and $15 million structural deficit are reduced.
“Our financial condition doesn’t warrant the removal of the status," Peduto said. "In fact, I would argue that it could jeopardize all the work that we’ve done up until this point to try and get Pittsburgh’s financial house in order."
Peduto said Pittsburgh would benefit from a sustainable budget for a decade to come if an exit strategy from Act 47 is created.
He also met with State Treasurer Rob McCord, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale and Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter — all Democrats.
Peduto said addressing many of Pittsburgh’s starkest challenges requires a strong working relationship with leaders on both sides of the aisle.
“It depends on issues that come up in the future," he said. "People can disagree and that’s good, that’s part of democracy, but (they) should be able to keep the personal separate from the policy.”
Peduto said he looks forward to more opportunities to work with the lawmakers in Harrisburg if he is elected mayor.
“We realize that, you know, the election isn’t until November, but at the same time there are protocols in politics and one of them is making sure to reach out to leadership to be able to get things done,” Peduto said.