Hoping to change the narrative in the city’s school-funding crisis, Mayor Nutter’s administration today released a series of YouTube videos defending his record and calling on other politicians to take action.
One of the videos, “TRUTH,” calls out the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers’ recent TV ad campaign that criticizes Nutter for neglecting Philly schools by supporting a funding package orchestrated by Gov. Corbett in June.
“The PFT leadership is running false ads distorting my record on education funding and my support for our children,” Nutter says in the video. “They failed to tell you that as mayor I’ve increased education funding by a $155 million annually in the last few years, while the state has cut funding by $140 million.”
A spokesman for PFT President Jerry Jordan did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (The PFT’s contract expired this weekend, and the union remains in negotiations with the district.)
The $155 million figure refers to revenue from two property tax increases and one U&O tax hike over the last two years, as well as the city’s decision to absorb the cost of assessing properties for the School District.
The video also lays out a slew of proposals the mayor has supported but have failed to become law: creating a soda tax and per-pack cigarette tax, hiking the liquor tax hike and raising property taxes for the schools through the Actual Value Initiative.
It’s essentially a list of Nutter’s failed legislative goals in the past few years. In the video, it serves as evidence that he has tried to do more for Philly schools.
In another video, “Education Funding And Our Children,” Nutter attempts to increase pressure on other political actors to find money for the schools.
“I’ve made the right choices for our kids. But lets talk about choices,” Nutter says. “City Council, make a choice: Pass the sales tax. State General Assembly, make a choice: Pass the cigarette tax. And Gov. Corbett, make a choice: Create a new statewide funding formula to fund our schools properly.”
City Council President Darrell Clarke has so far resisted extending the sales tax, at least in the form that it was approved by the state in its June budget deal.
Under that plan, the first $120 million in revenue would go to Philly schools every year, but only a small amount would aid the city’s beleaguered pension system in the first year. (The pension money grows over time, eventually generating $400 million over 10 years, according to the administration.)
Clarke prefers a 50/50 split between schools and pensions and wants Harrisburg to revise the tax authorization before Council approves it.