Nutter videos hit back at PFT ads

Posted: September 06, 2013

HOPING TO change the narrative in the city's school-funding crisis, Mayor Nutter's administration yesterday released a series of YouTube videos defending his record and calling on other politicians to take action.

One of the videos, " TRUTH," calls out the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers' recent TV ad campaign that criticizes Nutter for neglecting Philly schools by supporting a funding package orchestrated by Gov. Corbett in June.

"The PFT leadership is running false ads distorting my record on education funding and my support for our children," Nutter says in the video. "They failed to tell you that as mayor, I've increased education funding by a $155 million annually in the last few years, while the state has cut funding by $140 million."

The PFT, whose contract expired last weekend and is still in negotiations with the school district, declared a cease-fire on those ads yesterday because union president Jerry Jordan has scheduled a meeting with Nutter for this week.

The $155 million in new school funding to which Nutter refers in his video is from two property-tax increases and one use-and-occupancy-tax hike over the last two years, as well as the city's decision to absorb the cost of assessing properties for the district.

The video also lays out a slew of proposals that the mayor has supported but have failed to become law: creating a soda tax and a $2-per- pack cigarette tax, hiking the liquor tax to 15 percent and raising property-tax revenue for the schools by $94 million through a citywide reassessment.

It's essentially a list of Nutter's failed legislative goals in the past few years. In the video, it serves as evidence that he has tried to do more for Philly schools.

In another video, " Education Funding and Our Children," Nutter attempts to increase pressure on other political actors to find money for the schools.

"I've made the right choices for our kids. But let's talk about choices," Nutter says. "City Council, make a choice: Pass the sales tax. State General Assembly, make a choice: Pass the cigarette tax. And Gov. Corbett, make a choice: Create a new statewide funding formula to fund our schools properly."

City Council President Darrell Clarke has so far resisted extending the sales tax, at least in the form that was approved by the state in its June budget deal. He wants the revenue from the extension to be evenly balanced between school funding and aid to the city's depleted pension fund.

Council approved the cigarette tax last spring, but the state General Assembly hasn't authorized it to move forward.

On Twitter: @SeanWalshDN


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