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Keystone Crossroads: Rust or Revival? explores the urgent challenges pressing upon Pennsylvania's cities. Four public media newsrooms are collaborating to report in depth on the root causes of our state's urban crisis -- and on possible solutions. Keystone Crossroads offers reports on radio, web, social media, television and newspapers, and through public events.Our partner stations are WHYY in Philadelphia, WPSU in State College and witf in Harrisburg. Read all of the partner stories here.Pittsburgh’s WQED joins the collaboration as an associate partner. Support for this project comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Tax Exemption Payback Could Stabilize PA Communities, Some Lawmakers Say

Lindsay Lazarski
Pedestrians cross a bridge near the campuses of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. Hospitals and universities are among organizations that count as charities in Pennsylvania and, as such, don't pay property taxes.

State Rep. Rob Freeman, D-Easton, wants to use liquor tax proceeds to make up for local government revenue lost to property tax exemption.

Freeman first pitched this to an enthusiastic House Local Government Committee in 2007, but the recession hit before it got any traction.

Eight years later, the state still needs the money, given the looming deficit of between $1 billion and $2.3 billion (depending whom you ask).

So why now?

“With the debate going on about Senate Bill 4, it seems timely to talk about,” Freeman says. “And once we get into a position where we can divert this kind of revenue, to put into those communities, you’re not battling between cities and tax exempts, you’re providing a real solution to fiscal stability.”

Read a full version of this report at the website of Keystone Crossroads, a statewide public media initiative reporting on the challenges facing Pennsylvania's cities.