Can Harrisburg freeze Philly out?

In last week’s podcast, Ben and I tried to answer the question, “Is Philly a mooch on Pennsylvania?” and decided, ultimately, that this was a stupid question: Economies are ecosystems, and it’s very hard to separate the contributions of a municipality from a region, or even from other parts of a big, diverse state -- we interact. In a column today, John Baer touches on this same idea in arguing that losing clout in Harrisburg (as Philly just did) may not be as bad for the city as it appears on its face:

A couple of things might make a difference, or at least prevent annihilation.

State capitol

Senate GOP Leader Dominic Pileggi and House GOP Appropriations chairman Bill Adolph represent suburban Philly districts.

Says [State Rep. John] Taylor: "They know the importance of Philadelphia to the region and to their constituents, who come here for education, health care and more."

Democratic analyst Larry Ceisler adds: "What happens in Philly affects their districts, so I don't think there's any reason for hysteria."

Just as we can’t isolate Philly to measure its contributions, in other words, lawmakers would have a hard time isolating it for deprivation. We interact.

Baer doesn’t tiptoe around the fact that a state budget crisis and a governor sticking by a no-tax-hike pledge means serious cuts for everyone, including Philly. But that’s a different dynamic from Philly getting frozen out specifically. And he might be on to something here. With no money for anyone, clout might not translate into dollars these next couple of years as easily as it usually does.

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