Nutter's budget has some interesting questions to be answered in hearings
by Tom MacDonald for NewsWorks
Mayor Nutter presented a $3.8 billion budget proposal to Philadelphia City Council this morning that funds some modest service increases. But the mayor's plans for school funding and selling the city-owned Philadelphia Gas Works will face political obstacles.
The needs of the city's public schools have posed a perennial budget headache for this mayor, and this year is no exception.
Nutter acknowledges that it won't be easy to convince the state legislature to approve changes that he wants in order to help the city fund the schools. He wants approval of a new city cigarette tax, and he wants lawmakers to re-visit legislation enacted last year extending a 1 percent increase in the city sales tax beyond its planned expiration in July.
Last year's sales tax bill sent most of the revenue to the schools. Nutter wants lawmakers to ratify his agreement with City Council leaders to split the extra cash evenly between the schools and the city's beleaguered pension fund. Can he do all that?
"I'm from West Philly, I don't believe in insurmountable," Nutter told reporters in a midday session after his budget address. The mayor said the changes he's seeking in Harrisburg shouldn't be so difficult.
"I don't get it. I don't understand. We're not asking the commonwealth for anything other than to allow us to do our job here in Philadelphia," Nutter said."That's our fight. We will continue to push."