Nutter: Plan C would devastate city

Mayor Nutter seeks major changes in how the city pays for workers' salaries and benefits. (Clem Murray/Staff file photo)

Mayor Nutter said if the state doesn't sign off on the city's plan to raise its sales tax and stretch out required pension payments it would deal a "devastating blow" to the city budget.

Nutter told The Inquirer Editorial Board today that if state legislators didn't approve Philadelphia's request for a higher city sales tax and pension relief, he would be forced to lay off 600 to 800 police officers, plus 200 firefighters and paramedics; reduce hours significantly at rec centers and libraries, and shut down "a couple" of unspecified city agencies.

"These are dire consequences," Nutter said. "We'd be talking about a city you wouldn't recognize."

Nutter said he has made several trips to Harrisburg in recent weeks to speak with lawmakers about the two measures. But the city's issues are on the backburner while the state wrestles with its own budget problems. The state missed its July 1 budget deadline for the seventh year in a row. Gov. Rendell has proposed a $28.8 billion budget that relies on about $1.6 billion in new taxes, including a 16-percent increase in the personal income tax. 

Senate Republicans in May approved a $27.3 billion spending plan that calls for no tax increases.  But since then, state tax collections have dropped further, meaning legislators would need to cut the GOP's proposal another $1.5 billion or so to balance the plan. Frustrated House Democrats are debating whether to put forward a budget with those deeper cuts, just to show the public the impact of reduced services.