Medallion on floor of city hall

CITY COUNCIL VOTES TO APPROVE FY2021 BUDGET THAT REDUCES POLICE SPENDING, SUPPORTS POLICE REFORMS, INVESTS IN AFFORDABLE HOUSING, ANTI-POVERTY PROGRAMS AND OTHER MEASURES TO ADDRESS DISPARITIES IN PHILADELPHIA

In Cherelle Parker, Council News, Curtis Jones, Jr., Darrell L. Clarke, Featured, Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Kenyatta Johnson, News by PHL Council

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PHILADELPHIA, June 25, 2020 — City Council today approved a fiscal year 2021 city budget that reduces funding to the Police Department by $33 million, supports important reforms in policing, invests $20 million in affordable housing, and $25 million more to reduce poverty and address other disparities revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Council approved a $4.8 billion operating budget in a remote Council Meeting held virtually due to the ongoing pandemic. The vote to approve the budget was 14-3.

In addition to approving the budget with reductions in police spending – reversing years of annual police budget increases – Council voted to approve three significant reform bills addressing the police department in various ways.

Council voted 16-1 to approve Bill 200363, a reform restoring a city law requiring all applicants for civil service jobs, including the police force, to be residents of Philadelphia for one year prior to their hiring. The bill was originated by Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) and introduced on his behalf by Majority Leader Cherelle L. Parker (9th District).

Council voted unanimously in favor of Resolution 200080, placing a Home Rule Charter question on the November ballot for voters to call on the Police Department to eliminate the practice of unconstitutional stop and frisk. The resolution and a related bill were introduced by Majority Leader Parker.

Council voted 16-1 in favor of Bill 200367, placing a Home Rule Charter change question on the November ballot asking voters to authorize the creation of a Citizens Police Oversight Commission, which would replace an existing Police Advisory Commission and have enforcement powers to investigate allegations of police wrongdoing. The bill and an accompanying resolution were introduced by Council’s Majority Whip, Curtis Jones, Jr. (4th District), who chairs the Public Safety Committee.

Two other policing reforms by Councilmembers received first-reading approval today, and will be on the calendar for final passage when Council returns.

Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson’s legislation, Bill 200368, banning the use of chokeholds by city law enforcement, received first reading.

Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson’s legislation, Bill 2000364, requiring a public hearing process before any changes are made to the collective bargaining agreement with the police union, also received first reading today in Council.

Budget Actions on Policing

The budget approved today by Council reduced funding for the Police Department by $33.3 million – $14 million more in reductions than Council and the mayor agreed upon two weeks ago. The police budget approved by Council still calls for these reforms:

  • Body cameras for police officers
  • Implicit bias training for police
  • Mental health professionals for police-assisted diversion
  • Equity Manager for the police force
  • Transfer funding for crossing guards ($12.3 million) and public safety enforcement officers ($1.9 million) to Managing Director’s Office (MDO)
  • A Deputy Inspector General for police-related investigations (in OIG)
  • Fund a Police Oversight Commission ($400,000 to MDO)
  • Additional funding for the Public Defender ($1.2 million)

The budget that Council approved also contained significant investments in affordable housing, anti-poverty efforts, adult education, healthier food options and other disparities which were magnified by the COVID-19 outbreak in Philadelphia.

Additional Investments in Philadelphians

  • New Normal Budget Act. $25 million in the budget to address healthcare needs, healthier food options, affordable housing, anti-poverty efforts, job training and other measures to address the disparities laid bare by COVID-19 and the unrest in Philadelphia following George Floyd’s murder.
  • Quality, Affordable Housing. An increased investment of $20 million for the Housing Trust Fund.
  • Adult Education. $1.45 million for Adult Education.
  • Criminal justice reform. $825,000 in funding for Re-Entry Services
  • Arts and Culture funding. $1.35 million slated for elimination due to COVID-19 has been restored, through the Cultural Fund and African-American Museum

To close a deficit originally estimated at $750 million which was caused by the pandemic, City Council and its finance team worked with Mayor Kenney and his budget officials to close the gap. The actions approved today included several revenue bills.

Council President Clarke said he believed the collaborative work of City Council and the Kenney administration will address deep social ills and other reforms in city government which were magnified by the pandemic and unrest.

“The lack of access to affordable housing, health care, living wage jobs and healthy foods has been exposed by these crises – along with many problems,” Clarke said. “We cannot go back to that old normal. We need to create a ‘New Normal’ and address these disparities head on. I believe this budget is an important start towards doing that.”

In closing remarks today, Councilmember Derek Green (At Large, chairman of Finance Committee), eloquently summed up the last month in Philadelphia, saying, “It took our nation 401 years to recognize Black Lives Matter. This legislative body, by its actions, already recognizes that Black Lives Matter.”

Council President Clarke ended today’s session, saying he looked forward following the pandemic to working on the wide array of budget line items and programs approved by Council today. “Phase 2 of 2020 is coming, colleagues. We will be back.”

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