A clearly frustrated Mayor Nutter is still here in the state Capitol in Harrisburg, waiting for the state House Rules Committee to vote tonight on legislation needed for Philadelphia to balance its five-year financial plan. Nutter said notices posted today in city buildings, like library branches, warning that they would be shutting down soon without the approval of that legislation, upset many city residents.
"I think the people of Philadelphia are increasingly getting pissed off about this entire situation," said Nutter, who again noted that he has been visiting the Capital since April 27 to push for approval on two "relatively simple" measures in the legislation. One would allow the city to raise the sales tax by 1 cent on the dollar for five years while the other would allow pension plan payments to be deferred. Both are worth a combined $700 to the city.
"We've done every possible thing that we could do to prevent this, yet we are caught up in a political maelstrom where action gets taken but there is seemingly never a resolution," Nutter said.
The House passed the city's legislation on Aug. 5 and sent it to the state Senate, where it was loaded down with other issues involving municipal pension plans across the state. Unions reacted angrily to that amended legislation, which was sent back to the House for reconsideration. Tonight's Rules Committee hearing, scheduled for 8 p.m., is the next step in that process. The House has apparently stripped out many of the Senate ideas that offended unions. So the legislation, if passed by the Committee tonight and the full House tomorrow, bounces back to the Senate one more time, where it faces an uncertain future.
Philadelphia will send out layoff notices for 3,000 employees on Sept. 18, effective for Oct. 2, if the legislation is not approved by both the House and Senate and then signed into law by the governor.