Archive: September, 2009
Senate Republicans had anticipated meeting today to discuss where they stood on House Bill 1828, the Nutter-supported legislation that would raise $700 million for Philadelphia, in part, by raising the city sales tax.
Now, according to Inquirer Harrisburg reporter Mario Cattabiani, it seems no such discussion will occur until tomorrow, which means the earliest any vote could take place is also tomorrow. "As intense discussions on the state budget continue, today’s Senate session was changed to non-voting," said Erik Arneson, spokesman for Senate Republican Majority Leader Domenic Pileggi.
The change in voting schedule means the Nutter Administration will be just one day away - Friday - from sending nearly 3,000 layoff notices to city workers. The layoffs would take effect Oct. 2.
Mayor Nutter has just written to city workers, warning them that layoff notices would be coming this week if the city does not win Harrisburg's approval for its proposed sales tax hike and pension payment deferrals.
Read the letter for yourself below:
Dear fellow City employees,
Mayor Nutter was not in Harrisburg yesterday or today, but he is busy lobbying for the city's budget relief package nonetheless.
The mayor sent a letter yesterday to every state senator, urging them to support the twin measures that would allow Philadelphia to generate an estimated $700 million.
Little action was expected in the upper chamber today, with Senate Majority Leader Domenic Pileggi saying he anticipated discussing the legislation with his colleagues during a caucus meeting tomorrow. A copy of Nutter's letter is below.
The city's financial watchdog today declined to approve - or reject - Mayor Nutter's "doomsday" budget plan.
In its place, the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority conditionally approved another financial plan, one that buys the city more time to gain Harrisburg's OK for two measures that would pump $700 million in revenue into Philadelphia's five-year spending plan.
The conditionally-approved plan assumes the state will allow the city to raise the sales tax and defer pension payments for two years - and gives the state until Sept. 18 to act. That's the day that Nutter has vowed to mail layoff notices to 3,000 employees, unless the legislature makes a move.
City Controller Alan Butkovitz believes Mayor Nutter's "doomsday" budget may be unworkable.
He wrote as much in a letter today to the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, which as the city's financial watchdog may vote Friday on the budget - known as "Plan C." In the letter, while Butkovitz identified "matters that PICA should consider in assessing the plan," he stopped short of saying whether it should be approved or rejected.
Here's a copy of his letter:
In yet another development concerning a $700 million relief bill for Philadelphia, House Democratic leaders now vow to change the legislation sent to them last week by the Senate.
Besides providing money that could resolve Philadelphia long-outstanding budget crisis, the legislation as amended by the Senate sought to change municipal pension systems statewide. It's the pension changes that the House may now strip from the bill, possibly returning the measure to its original form, including solely a sales tax increase for Philadelphia as well as allowing the city to defer payments into its pension fund.
Here's the press release from the Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus:
In an ominous development for Mayor Nutter's budget, state House leaders have delayed a critical vote on Philadelphia budget relief and pension legislation amid growing signs there are not enough votes to pass the bill as drafted.
The delay brings Philadelphia that much closer to enacting the so-called "Plan C" budget, which could yield up to 3,000 layoffs, including deep cuts in personnel and services in core city departments like Police, Fire and sanitation.
If the Democratic House amends the bill, which seems increasingly likely, the bill would be sent back to the Republican-controlled Senate. Senate leaders have indicated they will not accept a bill that differs fundamentally from the one they sent to the House last week.
It seems Mayor Nutter is worried that there are too few votes in the Pennsylvania House to pass his much-sought after legislation to resolve Philadelphia's budget crisis.
The mayor has asked to meet with reporters this afternoon to explain what his staff believes are "myths" and "misinformation" being promoted about the bill.
Other evidence suggesting the legislation - House Bill 1828 - may be in trouble: It has yet to be scheduled for a vote Tuesday. "I’ve been in Harrisburg for a lot of years," said state Rep. Robert Donatucci, "and if they had the votes, we’d be notified already to come in on Tuesday and we haven’t got the call yet."