Editorial: State: Hand us that tool

Link: State: Hand us that Tool [Daily News]

MAYOR NUTTER has been sounding the alarm about the dire consequences if the state fails to enact legislation to help the city balance its budget.

Nutter wants to increase the local sales tax from 7 percent to 8 percent and reduce contributions to the city pension fund, both of which would generate about $700 million in revenue over five years. Both need approval from the Legislature.

State Sen. Dominic Pileggi, who leads the GOP in the state Senate, has said there will be no action on Nutter's proposals until there is a state budget. We just have one question: Why?

There is no good reason that the enabling legislation for the sales tax and pension changes should be linked to the state budget. It might be useful for Republican lawmakers looking to put political leverage on Gov. Rendell, but it's poor public policy. The state is causing undue hardship by delaying action on these critical pieces of legislation.

It's not like Philadelphia has any time to waste. For one thing, if the sales-tax increase fails, the city must have time to revise its budget for approval from the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA) by Aug. 15- that's eight working days away.

But every month that the sales-tax increase is not in place, we lose $10 million in revenue. The delay has already cost the city between $20 million and $30 million, which the city will need to make up in more cuts.

Further delays will only worsen the situation. Without additional revenue, the city will be forced to lay off thousands of employees, including hundreds of police officers and firefighters.

It's time for state lawmakers to stop dragging their feet and give Philadelphia the tools we need to get our fiscal house in order.