Thursday, July 10, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

LIVEBLOG: Nutter's Budget Address

11:32 -- And that's a wrap. Nutter tries to inspire at the end of the 53 minute speech. Here's the final remarks: "Nothing that’s happened in the last six months can stop us from achieving our goals. We have the future before us, full of promise, new ideas and a renewed sense of hope. Now is the time for big dreams, for bold action, for huge political courage and the will to change – change we can believe in."

LIVEBLOG: Nutter's Budget Address

11:32 -- And that's a wrap. Nutter tries to inspire at the end of the 53 minute speech. Here's the final remarks: "Nothing that’s happened in the last six months can stop us from achieving our goals. We have the future before us, full of promise, new ideas and a renewed sense of hope. Now is the time for big dreams, for bold action, for huge political courage and the will to change – change we can believe in."

The speech concludes to a mixture of standing ovation and chants of "don't tax the poor."

11:30 -- A call to service. Nutter asks the public to volunteer at libraries and recreation center.

11:29 -- Nutter again responds to a heckler.

"What about the trash, " a woman yelled. "We're going to pick it up, every week," Nutter responded, starting to laugh as the crowd chuckled.

11:28 -- Nutter outlines his vision for the future of the city. He draws a couple boos when he mentions that the city will have two casinos.

11:27 -- He's starting to wind down now. Here's some purple prose: "One attribute of leadership is the will to make tough, painful choices now for the sake of a better future. It’s looking across a valley of despair and knowing you can walk through tough times because you have a vision of a prosperous future on the other side."

11:24 -- Nutter says he's prepared to look closely at whether the city needs some independent elected offices -- like the Sheriff, Register of Wills, City Commissioners or Clerk of Quarter Sessions. Watchdog group Committe of Seventy put out a report this week, questioning the need for the offices. "I am certainly committed to exploring the various options for how we may either reduce, consolidate or eliminate any of these offices," Nutter says.

11:22 -- Nutter asks elected officials -- which obviously includes Council -- to make more cuts. "Do something to help. We need the savings."

11:21 -- Without contract concessions, city workers will get laid off, Nutter says. "Without these savings, unfortunately I have to tell you, layoffs will surely follow."

11:19 -- Nutter wants to declare the current pension fund "severely distressed," and set up a new plan with lower benefits for newly hired workers. And vested workers in current pension plans will be asked to pay more into their benefits.

11:18 -- Pay up workers. Nutter: "To ensure the city’s fiscal health, I’m asking our public employees to contribute more of their salaries toward their pensions and healthcare, amounts more in line with national averages."

11:16 -- Nutter says unions should consider taking voluntary furlough days. On the furlouogh days, a guy yelled "why don't you take 365 of them this year." Nutter replied: "I have a lot of work to do."

11:15 -- And the city unions are up. Nutter calls on leaders to work with him. Here's his message:

"And so, today, I’m calling upon Pete Matthews, president of District Council 33;
Brian McBride, president of the firefighters’ Local 22; John McNesby, president of the FOP; and Cathy Scott, president of District Council 47 with a message:

It’s time for leaders to lead, not follow the screaming masses.

Work with me, work with us, work with us on behalf of your members and the 1.5 million residents of our great city who pay their taxes and pay our salaries. We work for them and not the other way around."

11:11 -- Nutter lays out the two temporary tax hikes. The crowd gets steamed, especially on the one-percent hike in the sales tax, which he calls "a penny with a purpose." After that line, there's a weird rattle coming from the balcony -- sounds like pennies in a jar being shaken. Then there are chants on the sales tax -- "Don't tax the poor."

11:07 -- Nutter says he's making cuts, but will still need temporary sales and property tax hikes. He calls it a time to lead. This comment sounds like a dig at City Council?: "Unlike some politicians, I’m not worried on the next election. I’m focused on the next generation."

11:05 -- Here's the rallying cry for tax hikes and cuts. "We face really tough choices. There is no easy way out. I will not sugarcoat this. Now, more than ever, leadership demands an honest accounting of our situation and a responsible solution." And: "This is the time for all of us to either stand up and be counted or sit down and be quiet."

11:03 -- As we know, Nutter says no cop layoffs, no health center closures and libraries and rec centers will stay open. But: "To provide the level of service Philadelphians want will cost us more dollars than we currently have."

11:02 -- Nutter just mentioned his effort to go after tax deadbeats. "Ladies and gentleman, we’re not playing about people paying their taxes."

10:59 -- Nutter's on to city cars -- which have become a symbol of government waste to the public. "And lately there has been no greater symbol of reining in costs was clamping down on the use of city vehicles," he says to applause. Think this will make the 13 Council members with cars give them back?

10:57 -- Wow. Nutter acknowledges that the budget hole has grown beyond the $1 billion five-year gap he orginially announced: "I should also note that our budget hole has actually grown since mid-January by an additional $333 million to almost $1.4 billion," he says.

10:54 -- "Leaders also listen," Nutter says, talking about his budget town hall meetings last year.

10:51 -- Ok, now Nutter's explaining the cuts from last November when the first $1 billion five-year hole emerged. And he takes a dig at the "media spotlight" on his plan to shutter fire equipment, close pools and libraries. He gives a shout-out to Council members Verna, Kenney, DiCicco and Greenlee for backing him.

10:48 -- Now he's on to his record over the past year. Nutter notes the 15 percent drop in homicides, his ethics reform and the 3-1-1 Call Center.

10:47 -- Nutter notes the economic crisis, but says the city is not "paralyzed by it." He adds: "These times demand that the time for change has come."

10:45 -- Nutter talks about his vision. He says he wants to lead a city with good schools, parks, culture and jobs. "It's a city that works."

10:41 a.m. -- Nutter greeted with applause and boos from the balcony. In addition to thanking City Council, he gives a shout out to former Mayor Street.

Mayor Nutter will momentarily make his budget address to City Council, outlining his plans to close a $1 billion shortfall over the next five years. We'll be liveblogging the speech as it goes. So just keep updating your browser to see our take on his remarks.

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
 Follow Jenny on Twitter.

Sean Collins Walsh is from Bucks County and went to Northwestern University. He joined the Daily News copy desk in 2012 and now covers the Nutter administration. Before that, he interned at papers including The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Seattle Times. E-mail tips to walshSE@phillynews.com
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