While he didn't use the word "lobby," Mayor Nutter said he made lawmakers in Harrisburg knew how he felt about threats to the city’s share of the proposed Marcellus Shale “local impact fee.”
“If there is a bill moving and if something is going to happen, I need to make sure Philadelphia gets … our fair share,” Nutter said today.
The mayor was in Harrisburg Tuesday, when Gov. Corbett gave his budget address and the state Senate began maneuvering to pass the impact fee.
Vincent Hughes, ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he was warned that Philadelphia could get cut out of the impact fee money if Democrats didn’t deliver some support.
Nutter said his understanding was the city would be “excluded or significantly capped from the funding.”
The measure, which would impose a fee on natural gas extraction, eventually passed the Senate with some Democratic support. It passed the House today.
State Democrats had advocated for a steeper tax, rather than the fee.
Hughes complained that the GOP was playing “hardball politics” by threatening to cut Philadelphia out. Republicans countered that they had been negotiating with their counterparts for weeks.
Because the portion of the proceeds devoted to statewide projects would be divided based on population — meaning Philadelphia would get the biggest share — Republicans said they needed to show their caucus that the hometown legislators were on board.
Hughes and Sen. Anthony H. Williams, Democrats from Philadelphia, both voted for the fee. “It was a reality trade-off,” Williams said.
Nutter appears to have supported that trade-off.
“Part of my job is to protect the city’s interests or defend us in other situations where we might potentially suffer,” the mayor said. “The members vote how they vote … At least over in the Senate, those members were trying to protect the city’s interests.”
While the amount of money the impact fee would generate for the city hasn’t been calculated, it’s likely to be relatively small.
But another political reality is that the Republicans control both the House and the Senate, and Philadelphia is going to need their help to pass a number of bills this spring.
And generating a little goodwill couldn’t hurt.
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