Philadelphia, July 2, 2014 – City Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) on Wednesday thanked Pennsylvania lawmakers who voted to approve legislation that would enable the City of Philadelphia to increase a tax on tobacco products that will raise nearly $90 million for the School District of Philadelphia in its first full fiscal year:
“Tonight, a majority of representatives in the Pennsylvania House joined colleagues in the Senate in sending a clear signal to Philadelphia public school students: ‘You are the future of our Commonwealth, and worthy of investment.’ House approval of HB 1177 will move the School District of Philadelphia one step closer to adequate funding.
“For the fourth consecutive year, the School District of Philadelphia faces a budget shortfall and reductions in critical resources such as teachers, counselors, nurses and even textbooks. HB 1177 will help the largest public school district in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to avoid yet more crippling cuts to our classrooms.
“Over the last few years of the school funding crisis, I have worked closely with Philadelphia City Council and the Philadelphia Delegation led by the contagiously energetic Rep. Cherelle Parker. I send my heartfelt gratitude to Rep. Parker and members of the Delegation who have fought tirelessly to restore fairness to Philadelphia public school funding. I would like to especially thank Sen. Tony Williams, who proposed the $2-per-pack tax on cigarettes to help fund the School District of Philadelphia more than one year ago.
“I also must single out Rep. John Taylor, my friend from across the aisle who has always been a friend to the people of Philadelphia. Thank you, Rep. Taylor, for fighting for what’s best for Philadelphia’s students.
“And a giant thank-you to the advocates for the School District of Philadelphia – be you students, staff, parents or simply concerned citizens. Your advocacy, both online and in person, has meant a great deal to all those who fight against popular sentiment and political odds for what’s right and fair for Philadelphia public schools.
“Certainly, this last year of traveling to Harrisburg to advocate for Philadelphia public school students has been a lesson in diplomacy and in politics. I thank our City’s mayor, Michael Nutter, for also traveling the Turnpike for our schools numerous times to advocate for our students. I thank the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and President Rob Wonderling as well for also advocating for the Philadelphia cigarette tax.
“I sincerely hope Governor Corbett keeps his word and signs this legislation into law. I will continue to work with my colleagues in City Council and in the General Assembly toward truly adequate funding for all public schools in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Let us endeavor to not just keep our schools afloat, but to enhance learning environments for our students. We should not settle for merely stopping a decline in our schools.”