State Rep. Stephen F. Freind (R., Delaware) has won House approval of a potentially significant amendment to the bill that would enable Philadelphia to provide tax breaks for home owners in "gentrified" neighborhoods where property values and tax assessments have risen sharply. In doing so he has raised the possibility of linkage between that bill, if it becomes law, and a future cut in state funding for Philadelphia public schools.
The city's school district benefits substantially - $130 million in the current fiscal year - from a "bonus" program in state subsidies for public education. School districts that impose taxes at or above the median state level qualify for bonus subsidy payments. Philadelphia imposes school taxes below the state median but gets the bonus automatically under a provision in the subsidy law that, quite properly, recognizes that a large city with major poverty problems has special funding requirements for both municipal services and public schools.