In Council News, Isaiah Thomas, News by admin

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The FY23 Budget signals a post-pandemic society that puts Philly first

PHILADELPHIA, PA — City Council passed the FY23 municipal operating and capital budget with significant investments to improve Philadelphians’ qualities of life. Since the onset of the pandemic, families have struggled and businesses have shuttered. As Philadelphia moves towards a post-pandemic society, City Council has passed a budget that helps those who have struggled and positions the city to prosper.

Freshman City Councilmember Isaiah Thomas (At Large) has heard from community leaders, advocacy groups and constituents across the city to put him in a position to best understand the struggles of Philadelphia in order to create budgetary solutions. Thomas heard from workers and business owners who closed or left the city that Philadelphia’s tax structure works against them, not for them. Union workers and developers bemoaned an understaffed L&I (licenses and inspection) department which led to delayed, and at times unsafe, construction projects. Issues on Election Day and the need to modernize Philadelphia’s elections required significant funding for the City Commissioners office.

The issues and advocacy highlighted timely issues such as gun violence prevention and the need for quality and accessible healthcare. Thomas also heard from the arts and culture community, youth advocates and other groups which are routinely underfunded and ignored in the municipal budget process.

Below is a list of Councilmember Thomas’ budget priorities, with quotes attributed to Councilmember Isaiah Thomas, which saw significant investments in the FY23 budget:

A More Affordable Tax Structure

“Throughout the pandemic, we saw a record number of businesses – predominantly minority-owned –  close their doors or relocate to the suburbs. We need a tax structure that shows businesses and employers that Philly is open for business and with this historic investment in cities through ARPA – now is the only time we can do this. If we want expanded services and projects, we need to find ways to expand our tax base to fund them.”

Improve Workflow For L&I 

“Across the city, we are seeing new construction and renovations signaling the interest in Philadelphia’s growth. We need more L&I staff and the incorporation of technology to make sure that this development is done safely and responsibly. Just last week, we saw a tragic fire that took the life of a firefighter and severely injured several others – we need answers and we need to do better. With more L&I staff and modern solutions (such as drone technology), we can continue to grow in a way that is safe and desirable.”

Fully Fund Democracy 

“The next three Election cycles (Governor and Senator, Mayor and City Council, then President of the United States) will determine the next decade of Philadelphia, from a policy and economic perspective. As we watch the January 6th hearings, it is clear how fragile our democracy is. When we fully fund and modernize our elections, we put Philadelphia in a position to see investments and progress from every level of government.”

Save St Christopher’s Hospital 

“Only a few years ago, Hahnemann hospital was shuttered – taking away a critical healthcare facility and putting thousands of Philadelphians out of work. As we heard reports of a potentially similar fate for St Christopher’s Hospital, I could not let another health center close as we just saw how devastating this was for patients and healthcare workers. The pandemic showed us how undervalued our health system; we have to prioritize the facilities who are serving our most vulnerable populations.

More Youth-Centered Parks and Recreations Hours 

“In working with young people, as a Councilmember and a coach, I have been vocally concerned that we are focused on gun violence intervention but we are not doing nearly enough on gun violence prevention. I believe that quality, engaging youth programming – such as athletics or the arts – put young people on a great path to not only survive, but thrive. We need our parks and recreation centers to have youth-centered hours meaning more opportunities on evenings and weekends.

Passing the FY23 budget was a collaborative effort between all 17 members and the Mayor’s administration. Councilmember Thomas is appreciative of the openness and collaboration and looks forward to seeing these investments translate to a better Philadelphia for all.

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