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Mayor says schools would be in trouble without proposed cigarette tax

By Tom MacDonald for NewsWorks on Jun 30, 2014 12:11 PM
Photo: NewsWorks

Mayor Nutter says there could be dire consequences if Harrisburg lawmakers do not approve creating a cigarette tax for Philadelphia. 

"Without the $80 million-plus that would come from the cigarette tax, we would not be able to open schools in September safely," Nutter said.

If Harrisburg does not grant the city the authority to create the $2-per-pack cigarette tax, he said, there would have to be massive additional cuts to School District personnel.

"If we don't get these dollars, 1,300 more people will lose their jobs. That's on top of the 3,000 that were laid off last year. We'll have fewer personnel in the buildings. Class size will explode to 41 students in a class in a number of circumstances," he said. 

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Comments (6)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2014 1:23 pm
Maybe we should just plan on opening schools November 5th.
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on June 30, 2014 2:02 pm
OK this is ridiculous we are being held up by Corbett but what do we gain besides pride from not playing ball? Now if they approve pension reform new hires will get the money owed them deposited into a personal account. Old teachers like myself will not get to spend the young teachers contributions to PSERS on cruise tickets and houses in low tax states outside of Philadelphia. That is a Bummer. But PSERS is a Ponzi scheme allways has been and is insolvent now. That money was stolen by both Republicans and Democrats so we have been the victims of a bipartisanship screw job. That was always the plan. The people who set up PSERS knew it could not work for all and the trick was to retire and collect before the fund dried up. Right now any teacher under 50 who thinks he is getting full benefits is delusional. We will end up like the Detroit workers with dimes on the dollar. Since we are in an insolvent pension scheme what does it matter if they make it more insolvent? You might at least get a few more years of work before hitting the dole. Getting the cigarette tax means you can work for maybe another 5 years or so before Hite gets around to firing you all in a reform program. An interesting thing is that if new hires have personal accounts it will be more difficult for the politicians to steal the money by not paying contributions. They have not thought that one through. They are going to have to figure out new laws to get their hands on that money. It is time for Phildlephia to do something stop the whine.
Submitted by tom-104 on June 30, 2014 3:46 pm
You've bought into the corporate spin about pension funds being insolvent. They just want the money.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2014 9:09 pm
Schools will also be in trouble with the cigarette tax. Like when the district budgets $80 million and tax revenue comes in at $40 million or less because people either quit or, more likely, learn how to drive/take the bus to a city line avenue. Or their neighbor figures out he can make $1000 filling the trunk of a 95 Oldsmobile with perfectly legal cigarettes. More lucrative than slinging crack. This is the sort of stupidity that puts the district into perpetual crisis. But nobody ever asks questions when the dumb idea machine that is Philadelphia government lines up 100% behind a new tax and spending initiative.
Submitted by william beason (not verified) on July 2, 2014 8:39 am
I think cigarette should be banned near schools and colleges. It affects the other students mind and concentration.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2014 9:02 pm
This is, without a doubt, the most stupid proposal ever presented by this tax and spend happy administration. First, I'm a Dem, so don't think I'm playing a Republican card here. But first of all, it's unfair to impose a tax on only certain individuals - many of whom have no children attending the PSD. Secondly, only the poor will be hurt. Those who have a car will simply drive to Bala-Cynwyd or Delaware to but their cigarettes. Hence, hurting local businesses who prosper from cigarette sales and sell other items because of the draw of the cigarette sales (i.e. Wawa). Additionally, the poor will bear the burder further since they have little means to simply escape the city to buy cigarettes for a half hour - they will ultimately bear this burden. As a Center City homeowner who has had his property taxes raised by this Nutter regime by nearly 70% in 7 years, I'm tired of these tactics to support an administration and school board who feel it's continually OK to mismanage money and simply tax the people who essentially fund this city. The city of Philadelphia has effectively the worst schools in the state, with nearly the highest expenditure per pupil. What's wrong with this picture? Go ahead, implement the tax. I guarantee they will simply come up with another "we're underfunded" whine within a year. Especially when revenue actually decreases because the plan backfires - BIG TIME! This is a very foolish maneuver.

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