Sometimes the inner workings of government can be complicated and require a nuanced understanding of how and why things happen the way they do.
Then there are the times when you’re like “What the hell are those clowns doing?”
This is one of the latter.
Earlier this week, TribLive.com published an article titled, “Cash‐strapped state giving $1 million to Nutting‐owned Seven Springs, Hidden Valley.” You can read the entire piece here, but the bottom line is this:
Pennsylvania, yes the very same Pennsylvania that couldn’t get around to passing a state budget for the first time in modern history, is giving a $1 million to Bob Nutting, the billionaire (yes that’s billion with a “b”) owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates. This isn’t a tax credit or some write‐off; the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania actually voted to give Nutting a check for $1 million of taxpayer money.
In fairness, Nutting needed that money to build multi‐purpose event centers at two of the ski lodges he owns‐ Seven Springs Mountain Resort and Hidden Valley Resort. The exact plans for the multi‐purpose event centers are unknown at this time, but one would have to think one of the premier events will be Bob Nutting lighting a big fire with taxpayer dollars and laughing like a maniacal fool.
The funds come from a program called the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP). Unless you’re a lawmaker, lobbyist, or developer, you’ve probably never heard of RCAP‐ that’s what the cool kids call it. The idea is to give matching funds for big building projects and developments around the state. The lowest amount you can get is $1 million, and it has to go to an actual project, with the recipient putting up actual matching funds.
RCAP funds don’t come from the General Budget; they come from a kind of secret credit card the state uses by borrowing money via bonds‐ we’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars at once. This money is given out in the form of RCAP grants and the state (i.e. us idiot taxpayers) pay the accumulated debt service on the borrowed money. Meanwhile, lawmakers get their picture taken at ribbon‐cutting ceremonies, brag about job creation, and maybe, just maybe, hit the developer grant recipient up for some sizable campaign contributions.
And it’s all 100% legal. In fact, the process requires “approval” by the Legislature of specific projects, allowing legislators to play the hero by “getting your project on the list.” That’s really how it works. I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes.
What makes the Nutting grant really, really disgusting is the fact that the man is a legit billionaire who clearly doesn’t need $1 million from our cash‐strapped state. He took the funds because they were dangled in front of his face and Bob Nutting didn’t become a billionaire by refusing brown paper bags filled with free money.
Nutting also didn’t get rich by putting money into his Major League Baseball team. Despite being named the 10th richest owner in MLB, Nutting has played the role of “small market owner” like a virtuoso by failing to put money into the Pittsburgh Pirates despite the core of a contending team and the most beautiful taxpayer‐financed stadium money can buy in PNC Park. After gutting a 98 win team in 2015, Nutting avoided making reasonable moves to maintain or improve the team in the name of “cost‐certainty”, which means “Bob Nutting gets all the moneys all the times and f*ck everyone else.”
Are you pissed off yet? Either way, you’d better sit down for this one.
Nutting and the Pirates ownership is about to receive a check from MLB’s streaming revenue deal with a little outfit you may have heard of called Disney. How much is Nutting set to receive? (Seriously, you’re going to want to be sitting down.)
Not much. Just $50 million. Yup, you read that right. $50,000,000 in cash money.
But somehow Nutting still needs $1 million in taxpayer money? There’s a word for this, and that word is: FUCKING INSANE BULLSHIT. Okay, that was three words, but you get my drift.
Amazingly, the two legislators who helped drag Bob Nutting out of the gutter of mere millionaires and back to being a bona fide billionaire had no problem bragging about their role in this grand larceny. State Rep. Carl Metzgar (R‐ Berlin) and State Senator Pat Stefano (R‐Bullskin) provided the obligatory quotes about job creation, but couldn’t be bothered to respond to questions asking for any details of the aforementioned jobs. Translation: We have no clue, but we just want to be on this guy’s good side cause he’s a billionaire.
Judging by the lack of vocal opposition from anyone in state government, this kind of fiscal grabass is clearly the rule, not the exception. Forget partisanship, this is pure common sense. Allowing these kinds of RCAP projects to go on is gross negligence. I was about to propose a law prohibiting campaign contributions from RCAP recipients, but laundering political campaign contributions in Pennsylvania is so simple, any such law would be an insult to anyone who isn’t a billionaire.
So remember, if you’re frustrated by rising property taxes caused by a state government incapable of passing a simple annual budget because they just couldn’t offend the poor billion dollar fracking companies from paying any taxes, the solution is simple. Just go buy yourself a Major League Baseball team and open a couple of ski resorts. You’ll be shocked at just how well government works for you then.