Nutter: Clock is ticking for Philly

Here's a statement just issued by the mayor's office on the passage of House Bill 1828 by 112 votes to 85:

"Today’s passage of House Bill 1828 (HB 1828) is a big step forward for Philadelphia, and I would like to pay tribute to the hard work, dedication, and leadership of so many state representatives, especially members of the Philadelphia delegation led by State Representative Jewell Williams, State Representative Dwight Evans, Speaker Keith McCall, Majority Leader Todd Eachus, and State Representative Cherelle Parker.  

I’m further encouraged that this legislation passed with clear bi-partisan support and with support from across South Eastern Pennsylvania.  This is not a party issue.  This economic crisis does not distinguish between Democrats and Republicans.

It has taken a gargantuan effort to get us this to this point, but the hard work is far from over.  

In order for the City of Philadelphia to receive the tools that we need to fix our own budget crisis we need approval by the House, the Senate and the Governor.  We now need the Senate to consider and vote on our two measures – the temporary increase of the sales tax and the changes to our pension payments.

As Governor Rendell said earlier today there is no legislative or other practical reason why the Senate cannot act on this right away.  The approval that we are asking for is not related to the broader issue of the state budget.  It is a separate piece of legislation.  

The measures that we have proposed do not cost the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania a single penny.  What they do is enable Philadelphia to deal with its own problems and to avoid the consequences that have been laid out in Plan C.  Without the temporary increase in the sales tax and the changes to our pension payments we will have no choice but to implement the plan, cutting 929 uniformed police officers, almost 200 positions from the Philadelphia Fire Department, closing all regional and branch libraries, pools and rec centers, and eliminating around 3,000 positions from the city government.  

Time is of the essence.  If we do not have approval from Harrisburg by August 15th at the latest, we will have to move forward with implementing elements of this plan, beginning with a new Five Year Plan that we would have to present to the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA) within 15 days.  This timeline has been established by PICA.

We have already made substantial cuts here in Philadelphia, closing a $2.4 billion budget gap with $1.7 billion in cuts, efficiencies, fee increases and halting scheduled wage and business tax cuts.  The House has done its part by passing House Bill 1828.  Now HB 1828 moves to the Senate for action.  I believe that we have consistently made a convincing case for our measures and I look forward to working with the Senate to ensure swift passage of this legislation."

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