Mayor Nutter today suggested that state legislators from Philadelphia could face angry voters if they don't help approve two "critical components" in the city's budget. Nutter has met with more than 100 members of the state General Assembly in a series of trips to Harrisburg, including one yesterday, to lobby for a 1-cent increase in the local sales tax for five years and changes in how the city's pension fund is increased. Those are two parts of a plan Nutter and City Council came up with to close a $1.4 billion deficit in the city's five year financial plan.
Harrisburg is roiled in debate right now about the state budget, including whether to temporarily increase the state personal income tax by 16 percent. Nutter said legislators have been focused on the city's problems during his meetings but he doesn't know if the two measures will be approved or if action will be taken before or after the state budget debate is settled.
Authorizing a sales tax increase in Philadelphia, even if it has already been approved by Council, has some politicians in Harrisburg concerned. Nutter said the "overwhelming majority" of the city's delegation to the General Assembly have not raised concerns but, politics being politics, he expects a few might be worried. His message to those legislators: Worry instead about the cuts the city will have to make if the measures are not improved.
"If we don’t get the temporary increase in the sales tax, which is $580 million dollars over the course of the five-year plan, I think certainly for Philadelphia delegation members the anger that Philadelphia citizens are going to have about the kinds of steps that we would have to take in terms of service cuts, layoffs and reduction in programs, is going to far outweigh any concern that could possibly be raised about a member of the general assembly voting to authorize a tax that has already been passed by the local City Council," Nutter said.