Nutter: shortfall in the trillions will hurt city budget, schools

Mayor Nutter stopped by the Daily News Wednesday to have a chat about the city's budget.

He said the city is facing a trifecta of budget concerns that could affect its financial future going forward, he said - the federal gov't is facing a $1.7 trillion deficit, the state is staring down a gap of $4 billion hole the School District of Philadelphia is expecting a $400 million shortage.

"Any one of those three can have a significant impact on us and we're very, very concerned about those," he said.

The city has no control over the feds and the state, but has a direct partnership with the district, who receives a portion of their funding from the city's property taxes. 

When asked if he'd be willing to shift a portion of property taxes directed to the district, Nutter said the move may be futile.

"That's shifting five dollars from one pocket to the other pocket, or to a different pair of pants," he said. "We do a millage shift, all it's doing is taking money away from the general fund and then we're back into making some cuts. So, for folks who want to propose that, my only question is, which $20, $30, $50 million in services are you prepared to give up?"

"For everything that we send over from the millage shift, what services are we not going to have?"

Nutter, as well as the school district, have no idea what they're facing until the state's budget picture is more clear.

The mayor also expressed concern with the direction the state Legislature may go with respect to program cuts. In a moment of presage, he said that lawmakers may target public eduation and public welfare, and Philadelphia, which harbors the state's largest systems of schools and social services, will get disproportionately hit.

"We want to make sure they're not balancing the budget on the backs of folks who can't afford it," he said. "This is not the time to cut back in education. This is not the time to cut back on funding in education."