Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Petition Drive to Aid Kids Gaining Strength Advocates Seeking Spot on Nov. 6 Ballot

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Petition Drive to Aid Kids Gaining Strength Advocates Seeking Spot on Nov. 6 Ballot

Article excerpt

Wearing bright purple T-shirts and carrying clipboards, a half-dozen or so volunteers are standing near the entrance to the Carnegie Science Center on the North Shore. As families come inside on a recent Monday morning, a clipboard-wielding woman cheerfully asks them if they are registered to vote in Allegheny County.

No, they aren't registered voters, some say.

No, they live in Washington County, another replies.

They are running late and don't have time to talk, one couple says.

When one woman responds she is a registered Allegheny County voter, a volunteer explains they are circulating a petition for a Nov. 6 ballot initiative and asks her to sign the petition, explaining what information she needs to fill out.

The volunteers are gathering signatures for a proposed Allegheny County Children's Fund.

If approved, the fund would provide additional tax dollars to early childhood education, after-school programs and nutritious meals for Allegheny County kids.

Proponents estimate that a property tax increase of an additional one-quarter mill, or $25 annually on each $100,000 of a home's assessed value, would raise $18 million to $19 million every year to aid children's programs.

Critics, such as Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, have said they disagree with funding the programs via a property tax increase.

The volunteers hope to gather more than 40,000 valid signatures to get the proposal on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. They must gather a minimum of just over 35,600 signatures - 10 percent of the total number of votes in Allegheny County in the 2014 gubernatorial election - from registered voters for the issue to go before voters.

Lindsay Cashman, advocacy and public policy director at PUMP, an organization that aims to mobilize young people, was gathering signatures last week at the science center and said she believes the campaign is on track to get enough valid signatures. …

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