Green: Clarke proposal 'a distraction'

Council President Darrell Clarke and SRC chairman Bill Green at a hearing in May 2014. (Michael Bryant/Staff)

School Reform Commission Chairman Bill Green IV said the sales-tax legislation unveiled today by Council President Darrell Clarke is "a distraction."

"It's not going to happen," Green said of the proposal's chances of being authorized by Harrisburg lawmakers. "I'm pleased that a bill has finally been introduced but I don't think it's responsible to play a game of chicken with Harrisburg."

Clarke's plan for how to distribute money from extending the city sales tax (from 7 percent to 8 percent overall) - as first described in today's Daily News - gives $120 million to the School District of Philadelphia in its first year and then phases in a 50/50 split of the revenue with the city pension fund over four years.

That would require the state General Assembly to revise authorizing legislation it passed last year to let the city permanently extend the tax hike, which is slated to expire in July. The state law requires the first $120 million of revenue to the district every year. The remainder, which would start at $2.8 million and grow over time, would go to pensions.

Clarke and Mayor Nutter are also asking Harrisburg to pass a $2 per pack city tax on cigarettes that would fund the schools. The chances of that passing are even slimmer.

"A complicated message in Harrisburg - on the one hand, take money away from the school district with the sales tax; and on the other, giving it money with the cigarette tax - will get neither done," said Green, who was appointed this year by Gov. Corbett.

A spokeswoman for Clarke did not immediately respond to a request for comment.