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 Sharon Ward, Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.
Comments: The severe national recession has driven many states and cities to the brink, forcing furloughs, layoffs and program cuts. Mayor Nutter managed to avoid the worst of it, making the case early on for additional short-term revenue to keep the city running. The November “library massacre” and subsequent “budget cut tour” built public support for a tax increase, but also uncovered widespread distrust of the property tax assessment system that will prove to be the administration’s next big challenge. Relying on the state legislature to approve a sales tax increase was a big gamble that had far reaching consequences; the Mayor did a good job making the case in Harrisburg, but the effort was a heavy lift for the Governor and Appropriations Chairman Dwight Evans and contributed to the delay in passing the much larger state budget. Had the Mayor and City Council agreed in May to temporary wage and business tax changes to solve the budget shortfall much of the summer’s drama might have been avoided.