Broken Promise? The Pittsburgh Promise and UPMC

Lucy Newman, The Eagle Staff Reporter

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According to Michael Lamb, Pittsburgh Democratic mayoral candidate, there is no promise. Sure, there’s the promise that Pittsburgh Public School students will get money for going to college in Pennsylvania. But what about UPMC’s promise to fund it?
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, known as UPMC, is what is referred to as a nonprofit organization. It does do a lot of good in the Pittsburgh area, primarily by the life-saving medicine they provide.
However, according to the most recent data available, UPMC makes $801 million in profits a year, not including millions of dollars a year and a private jet for the owner Chris Gessner. It also owns $1.6 billion worth of tax-exempt property, 86% of which is designated as exempt from taxes by the local government, according to a recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  investigation. UPMC is also known to have paid maintenance employees so low that they have to rely on food banks.
The main difference from a nonprofit such as UPMC and a for-profit corporation, in reality, is taxes. While the corporate tax rate in America is 12% (Wall Street Journal) plus 10% (Pennsylvania Department of Revenue) for Pennsylvania state tax, nonprofit organizations are exempt from tax entirely. So a company that makes $801 million a year should pay about $176 million in taxes per year.
UPMC announced in 2007 a “$100 million commitment to help students graduating from Pittsburgh Public Schools further their education after high school,” according to their website. However, “UPMC will give $1.00 for every $1.50 that is contributed to The Pittsburgh Promise Fund” (, with a limit of $100 million in the next ten years. Last year, $7.5 million was raised by the city, so UPMC donated only $5 million. In comparison to $176 million, $5 million a year is a very small amount to donate.
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