Budget Relief Gets Final State Senate Approval

Mayor Michael Nutter answers questions at a press conference outside City Hall this morning just prior to his trip to Harrisburg. The State Senate passed the city budget relief bill this afternoon. (Clem Murray / Staff Photographer)

Talk about a photo finish.

The state Senate just approved House Bill 1828, the budget relief legislation Philadelphia needs to avoid sending out 3,000 layoff notices tomorrow. The bill now goes to Governor Rendell for his signature.

Mayor Nutter stood outside the Senate chambers after the vote to thank senators for their votes. "“This has been a long, long struggle. This is a tremendous win for the city of Philadelphia and our public employees," he said.

HB1828 – which has bounced back and forth between the state House of Representatives and the state Senate over the past six weeks – will allow the city to temporarily raise the sales tax and delay some payments into the pension fund. Those two moves are worth $700 million over the next five years.

Because the state has taken so long to approve the relief, Mayor Nutter has been readying his fallback budget, which included layoffs, closing all libraries and recreation centers and reducing trash collection. Those cuts were to be finalized Oct. 2 without state action.

The city has already made some cuts to account for the delay in the sales tax revenue, which was expected to start bringing in $10 million a month in August. Layoffs and other reductions were announced last month to account for the loss of August and September sales tax revenue.