Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Controller tells a scary Thanksgiving story

Just in time for the holiday, city Controller Alan Butkovitz released a scary report this morning laying out how possible state budget cuts could take a wrecking ball to city finances — especially impacting social services.

Controller tells a scary Thanksgiving story

Just in time for the holiday, city Controller Alan Butkovitz released a scary report this morning laying out how possible state budget cuts could take a wrecking ball to city finances — especially impacting social services.

As we discussed a couple of weeks ago, with the state facing a potential $5 billion shortfall for next fiscal year and incoming Gov. Corbett saying he won't allow any tax or fee increases, it stands to reason that the state budget could be drastically slashed.

The controller points out that the state provides the city with about $1.8 billion a year, mostly for providing social services.

Though we don't know the form any cuts might take, the report details the effects of a few different scenarios. All would mostly be felt by the poorest Philadelphians.

The worst-case scenario the report explores is a 30 percent cut in state funding. To put that in perspective: A 30 percent cut in state funding to the Department of Human Services would reduce its budget by a staggering $117 million, almost equal to the cost of the department's programs to provide support for juvenile offenders. And a 30 percent cut in state subsidies for the Office of Behavioral Health and Mental Retardation Services would reduce funding by $319 million.

Again, these cuts haven't even been proposed. But the report does serve to underline how reliant the city is on state funding for providing vital services.

Here's a PDF of the report in case you want to get depressed.

Happy Thanksgiving, indeed.

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Every year, city government spends slightly more than $4 billion. Where does all that money come from? More importantly, where does it go? Are we getting the most bang for our tax buck? “It's Our Money” is a joint project between Philadelphia Daily News and WHYY, funded by the William Penn Foundation, designed to answer these questions.

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