Archive: June, 2011
Union workers, business owners, advocates for the soda industry and several City Council members gathered outside City Hall today to protest Mayor Nutter’s proposed soda tax.
The sugar-sweetened beverages tax is one of three proposals from Mayor Nutter to help provide funds to the cash-poor school district, which faces a $629 million deficit in the coming fiscal year. Nutter's other proposals include a 10 percent property tax hike and an increase on parking meter rates.
Over the blare of horns from soda truck drivers, opponents said the tax unfairly targets their industry.
Check out an interesting Dave Davies column over at WHHY's Newsworks site on whether Philadelphia can ever regain momentum on tax cuts. An excerpt:
A little history : In the 1970's and 80's, as the city's economic base collapsed and its middle class fled, city leaders repeatedly cut services and raised taxes to balance the books, and it seemed we were in a death spiral: The government simply couldn't manage on its shrinking tax base, so it raised taxes, which only encouraged the job and population drain.
Then a startling thing occurred in the 1990's. Mayor Ed Rendell came into office with the city humbled and broke, and things turned around. It happened because he brought smart people in who cut employee benefit costs, privatized some services and make productivity gains, and because he was lucky: the national economy was booming, which drove up tax revenues, and Rendell had a friend and fellow Democrat in the White House.
If governing was a popularity contest, Gov. Corbett would be in decent shape with the state's voters, a new poll from Qunnipiac University shows. Fifty-one percent of the state's voters like Corbett as a person while just 14 percent of voters don't like him. But a majority of voters, 52 percent, disapprove of how Corbett is handling the state budget while 33 percent approve.
A strong majority of voters, 63 percent, say the economic benefits of drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale region of the state outweigh the environmental impacts. An even larger group, 69 percent, say gas companies should pay a tax to drill in the state. Even 59 percent of Republican voters agree with that. Corbett, who enjoyed strong campaign contributions from the industry last year, has steadfastly refused to consider such a tax.
Corbett took over the job from Gov. Rendell five months ago and the poll found voters split when asked who is better or worse at the work. Twenty-nine percent said Corbett is better, 25 percent said he is worse and 38 percent said the two men are about the same while 8 percent were undecided.
Teachers rally over pink slips.
And Council continues to debate as time pressure increases on schools funding.
Police arrest a woman who used facebook to hire a hitman.
Time is running out for City Council to decide on whether to provide more revenues for the cash-poor school district. As they continue to debate whether to enact a soda tax to raise money, opponents are planning a rally for tomorrow.
Here's the release:
PHILLY JOBS, NOT TAXES COALITION TO HOST MAJOR CITY HALL RALLY TUESDAY TO ASSAIL NUTTER ADMINISTRATION’S SUGAR-SWEETENED BEVERAGE TAX
The DN looks at a lawsuit filed by Sgt. Kimberly Byrd -- a controversial former top aide to ex-Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson -- against the police department.
Is Schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman a union-buster?
A South Philly crossing guard helps guide people in many kinds of journeys.
As expected, today's Council hearing concluded without a vote on any of the revenue measures before them to raise funds for schools. After more than six hours of testimony, Council recessed their hearing with plans to come back next Thursday, which basically buys them several days.
And there seemed to be no more consensus at the end of the day on what to do. Mayor Nutter is asking Council to consider a 10 percent property tax hike, a 2 cents per ounce soda tax and a hike on parking meter fees to raise money for the schools, which face a $629 million deficit in the coming fiscal year. But there don't appear to be nine votes yet for any of the options.
Council heard from numerous opponents of the soda tax today. Lobbyists, union workers and business owners packed the chambers, arguing that the measure would cost jobs.
U.S. Rep.-turned Governor-turned secretary for homeland security-turned natural gas industry consultant Tom Ridge appeared last night on Comedy Central's The Colbert Report to talk about the practice of "fracking," forcing water, sand and chemicals into the ground at great pressure to break up shale deposits and tap pockets of natural gas.
Ridge started strong on his talking points but had a long pause, put down his head, held up his hand and then pressed on after host Stephen Colbert asked this about the chemicals pumped into the ground: "How many of those can I feed my toddler? Because it's perfectly safe, right? It's perfectly safe?"
"Well, you'd be abusing your kids if you did," Ridge replied. "So let's just put that away."