September 6, 2013 |
WHEN ASKED about his disagreement with Council President Darrell Clarke over Philly's school-funding crisis, Mayor Nutter often stresses that they really aren't that far apart. He rattles off a list of policy goals he shares with Clarke and he questions why people focus on their differences. The mayor has a point: On many fronts, he and Clarke are on the same page: Both want a new school-funding formula for the state, both want Harrisburg to enable a city tax on cigarettes, and both want to split new sales-tax revenue 50/50 between Philly's schools and its pension fund.
August 15, 2013
TWO MORE days. If Friday doesn't arrive with a $50 million check, Superintendent William Hite says that he will delay the Sept. 9 opening of schools. Hite made that announcement six days ago. Not only are we no closer to resolving the issue, but the situation is worse: Hours after state and city lawmakers yesterday called on Gov. Corbett to release $45 million promised from the state, Corbett pulled out a flaming hoop for the schools to jump through, demanding concessions from teachers, whose contract doesn't expire for two more weeks.
August 9, 2013
THIRTY-ONE days just became seven. If City Council doesn't move on certifying $50 million in proceeds from the sales tax to the School District by next Friday, Superintendent William Hite says he will be unable to open the schools on Sept. 9. So the daily countdown of time remaining in the standoff between the schools and the state and city lawmakers who have fallen short of finding the money the schools need to open has just been shortened. More to the point, Hite has finally introduced the nuclear option.
August 7, 2013 |
WITH SCHOOLS set to open next month, the Nutter administration and the Philadelphia School District are calling on City Council to move forward with a plan to send funding from an extension of the 1 percent sales-tax increase to the financially troubled school system. Part of Gov. Corbett's rescue plan allows the city to borrow $50 million against an extension of the sales tax, which beginning in fiscal year 2015 would bring in $120 million for schools annually. The Nutter administration's original plan to help the district close a $304 million budget hole was to enact a new $2-per-pack tax on cigarettes, but that failed to get approval in Harrisburg.
August 2, 2013 |
CITY COUNCILWOMAN Maria Quinones-Sanchez thinks Gov. Corbett's recently approved plan to help the School District of Philadelphia close a massive budget gap is too risky, and yesterday she called on the city to do more. Sanchez wants the city to send a onetime grant of up to $50 million to restore school nurses, counselors, safety staff and other services - all of which are in jeopardy in the face of a $304 million budget hole. The funding would become available because tax revenues are now expected to be higher than initially anticipated, Sanchez said.
July 25, 2013
Like Harrisburg before it, Detroit was brought to the brink of bankruptcy by bad government as well as bad breaks. Kwame Kilpatrick, who could face decades in prison for running a criminal enterprise out of the mayor's office, is only the worst example of the sort of leadership that sped Detroit's plummet from Ford-fueled prosperity to last week's filing for the nation's largest ever municipal bankruptcy. A failure to adjust to dwindling resources ultimately left the city with such unbearable burdens as $3.5 billion in unfunded pension liabilities.
July 19, 2013 |
GOV. CORBETT AND the Legislature have done just about all they're going to do to save Philly's cash-poor school district, and that includes dedicated funding from an extension of the 1 percent sales-tax increase. But, that approach isn't necessarily something with which elected officials locally agree. The sales tax, which was slated to expire in June, was raised from 7 percent to 8 percent in 2009 to aid the city during the recession. That extra percentage increase brings in about $143 million.
July 6, 2013 |
Some towns have raised taxes and others have cut services as they endure their own versions of the pension crisis playing out in Harrisburg. In fact, Pennsylvania - home of 25 percent of all the public pension plans in the nation - has so many ailing plans that pension distress might qualify as an official state illness. Some Philadelphia suburbs have had to double - even quadruple - their minimum pension payments for retired police officers and municipal workers. And 30 of the area's municipal pension plans are funded at 69 percent or less, according to Pennsylvania's Public Employee Retirement Commission.
July 3, 2013 |
PART OF GOV. Corbett's so-called rescue plan for the Philadelphia school district involves funding that city lawmakers had their eyes on to fix an equally vexing problem - the drastically underfunded pension. Corbett's plan included funding earned through the extension of a 1 percent sales-tax increase, which had been set to expire in June, but city lawmakers say they had been considering the tax as a way to help the city from sinking under ever-increasing pension costs. "I think the pension problem is as diffreicult and challenging as the school district problem is," Council President Darrell Clarke said Monday.
July 1, 2013 |
Skeptics say there's no such thing as a "temporary" tax. Like the two-year property tax increase City Council passed in 2010 that, lo and behold, is still with us. Or another dreaded levy: the wage tax. It was passed in 1939 as a short-term fix for the city's finances, but succeeding generations have nonetheless been forced to accept its bite in their paychecks. The latest tax under consideration for immortality is the 1 percent sales-tax increase the state allowed Philadelphia to impose in 2009 as a bridge through the recession.