State Senator Suggests That City Council Get Rid of DROP Program To Help Budget

State Sen. Larry Farnese put out this press release at about 6:30 p.m. tonight. PhillyClout asked him earlier in the day if he raised any of these issues during the session between the mayor, City Council and the state lawmakers. He said he did not. But hours later, he released the following:

Sen. Larry Farnese Asks City to Examine Spending As It Seeks Approval from State to Raise Taxes

Says City Council Should Eliminate Controversial DROP Program

 Senator Larry Farnese urges Philadelphia City Council to examine its own spending – including the controversial DROP program – as city officials continue to lobby Harrisburg for approval to raise the Philadelphia sales tax to 8% and modify the city's pension funding obligations.

The senator joined other members of the state Senate and House at a meeting Monday morning in Philadelphia with Mayor Michael Nutter and City Council leadership to discuss the impact of the state budget on the city of Philadelphia.

The city is pressing state lawmakers, who are in the midst of budget negotiations, to approve a 1% sales tax increase in the city, as well as changes in pension funding. The city cited a more than $1 billion budget gap, which it claimed could prevent Philadelphia from providing even basic city services.

Sen. Farnese acknowledges the dire straits the city is in, but says that the state is in the same boat, with lawmakers in Harrisburg struggling to close a $3 billion deficit in the state budget.

“No one wants more than I do to help Philadelphia succeed as a world-class city – but right now, we all must tighten our belts and make sacrifices,” said Farnese.

Farnese noted that approval of the city's request will require backing of legislators from other parts of the state.

“City Council needs to take a hard look at whether continuing DROP for elected officials sends the right message in Harrisburg,” said Farnese. “In these tough economic times, eliminating DROP would demonstrate a commitment to government reform, and would go a long way toward fostering the public’s trust.”

Sen. Farnese explained, even more sacrifice is needed, adding that across-the-board cuts in legislative spending are also on the table in state budget negotiations.

“We Senate Democrats know we’ll have to make painful cuts in this budget – and not by choice. I fully anticipate City Council will join us in our efforts by making some painful decisions of its own, as we try to pass a state budget we can all live with,” said Sen. Farnese.