Nutter backs Senate bill calling for reduced pension benefits

Mayor Nutter this afternoon came out in clear favor of Senate legislation that both gives financial relief to Philadelphia while mandating changes in pension benefits strongly opposed by the city's unions. He said so in a letter to Republican Senate Majority Leader Domenic Pileggi (see below).

What the unions - all four are currently negotiating new contracts with the administration - are wondering is what role Nutter had, if any, in drafting the measure, which could give the mayor more leverage in the collective baragaining and arbitration processes.

The full Senate is poised to vote on the legislation, as outlined in today's Inquirer story, sometime later today.

But it appears the legislation may change even moreso, as it is scheduled to be voted on by the Senate Appropriations Committee before reaching the Senate floor.

Here's an excerpt of Nutter's letter today to Pileggi.

"I strongly supported HB 1828 as passed by the House of Representatives on Aug. 5, 2009. As the measure moved through the Senate legislative process, I was made aware of various amendments that address pension reforms for plans across Pennslvania, including Philadelphia. While I did not request any amendments to HB 1828 and have strongly requested and advocated that no amendments be made to the bill, I fully recognize and respect the General Assembly's legislative prerogative.

"The financial recovery tools that are critial to the future of the City of Philadelphia - the authorization to temporarily increase the local sales tax by 1 percent for five years and the authorization to partially defer pension payments in FY 10 and FY 11 - are key elements contained with HB 1828. ...

"Even though this bill now contains new amendments that I neither requested nor advocated for, the City of Philadelphia needs passage today by the Senate of HB 1828. The short and long term financial and operational interests of the City of Philadelphia are at stake and the tools essential to the City's financial recovery are embodied in HB 1828, PRinter No. 2609 and therefore, I support this bill."

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