Councilwoman Cindy Bass (8th District) has created a funding proposal that will raise enough money to avoid a School District of Philadelphia deficit without increasing property taxes.
“It’s more important than ever that government act with transparency and truth on behalf of our constituents,” Councilwoman Bass said. “Making the best use of every dollar, seeking out operational efficiencies and implementing them, having departments identify cost savings, and being transparent about the process—that’s what this budget process should look like.
“I’m proposing that the City look internally and decide what steps departments can take to be more cost efficient. We can’t continue to operate as we have been while asking our constituents—many of whom feel overtaxed—to pay up.”
Bass’ “Better Budget” funding proposal seeks gradual cuts for prisons and strategic proportional savings across City Departments without cutting jobs. The funding package will raise $670 million over five years to address a projected $630 million School District deficit.
“My funding plan does not take the pressure off of state lawmakers to fund Philadelphia schools as they are mandated to do. It does, however, attack the $630 million projected School District deficit and leaves the District with a $40 million surplus,” Bass said. “Most importantly, it does not raise taxes for Philadelphians.”
Bass took several factors into account when considering potential cost savings measures, including the dramatic decrease in the Philadelphia prison population from more than 8,000 in 2015 to less than 5,200 in 2018. According to the Department of Prisons, the population is projected to continue shrinking. During budget hearings, the Department also testified that as the prison population continues to decrease, it will be analyzing additional budget cuts. Therefore, the Department can further lower its spending in relation to a nearly 35 percent drop in inmate population.
“The City spends three times more money on housing an inmate than on educating a child,” Councilwoman Bass said. “Taxpayers want to invest in the education-to-opportunities pipeline, not the school-to-prison pipeline.”
Bass’ budget amendment will be introduced into the Committee of the Whole on Tuesday, June 5.