With death of soda tax, Nutter's budget and clout are hurting

With the failure of his much lobbied for soda tax this morning, Mayor Nutter's budget and political clout are both in trouble.

Let's take the budget first. In a letter this morning to City Council, Nutter chief of staff Clay Armbrister warned that - without a soda tax or a bigger property tax hike - the mayor would be forced to trim an additional $20 million and 300 positions from the budget that Council has put together. Council leaders reject that view. They say the budget is balanced, with a $42 million fund balance. The Nutter administration considers that balance way too low, and warn that it does not "provide enough money to cover the cash flow requirements of the city nor meet the requirements of a prudent five year plan."

But council is not budging. There will be no vote on the soda tax today. The budget Council will vote on today includes a 9.9 percent property tax hike and a $300 annual trash fee for small businesses and multi-unit residences. There is no appetite on Council for any tax hikes on top of those.

Council also just overrode a Nutter veto on separate legislation that guarantees city paramedics the right to stay in the same bargaining unit as city firefighters. The override was led by Councilman Jim Kenney, who has been among Nutter's allies on council.

Taken together, Nutter's defeat on the soda tax and the veto override are bound to raise questions in the chattering classes about the mayor's political clout.

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