It's Our Money is asking various experts and advocates to grade the Nutter administration on its performance in the budget process -- it's handling of the process, and the quality of the budget it ultimately got, given the circumstances. This assessment is from Joe Hill, Chairman of the Philadelphia Youth Commission and a Junior at Georgetown University.
Comments: When the recession hit, cities and states across the country were forced to make tough decisions in a short amount of time. But instead of calling for greater efficiency, making much needed cuts to his own staff, or raising taxes on those who could afford to sacrifice temporarily, Mayor Nutter’s first budget cut was levied on the city’s most vulnerable, resource-starved communities. He announced that libraries and pools would be closed, removing the only safe-spaces for young people in some of our city’s most dangerous neighborhoods. After the proposal met with opposition, Mayor Nutter launched an effective public engagement campaign, designed to build support for tax increases to pay for city services. His subsequent lobbying effort in Harrisburg was also well-crafted, but the folks who were against the Mayor’s first slight of the young and poor should not be happy with an extremely regressive tax increase (the sales tax) that promises to effect those with the least the most. While Mayor Nutter may have succeeded tactically, this budget was neither creative nor courageous in meeting the needs of the vast majority of Philadelphians.