“Earlier this year, the Fiscal Year 2018 budget process began on an ominous note. Uncertainty regarding policies from Washington and Harrisburg that would negatively impact Philadelphia are still reality. Today, I am extremely proud and grateful to work with 16 colleagues who put people before politics every time.
“Mayor Kenney proposed a responsible budget that addresses our City’s most pressing issues without raising taxes, and through the legislative process Council has enhanced his proposals to reflect the shared values of Philadelphians while protecting taxpayers. That is how this process is designed to work, to include the wants and needs of citizens who told us their vision for a better City over 13 weeks of public hearings and testimony. To Philadelphians, I say: Thank you for caring about yourselves and your neighbors enough to engage with your local government. We can’t do this work without you.
“Each independently elected member of City Council has their own ideas for how to make Philadelphia the welcoming and prosperous City we know it can be. But we are united by the core, inviolable principles of equity and inclusion. To that end, we have made an additional $500,000 investment in the LandCare Jobs program, a partnership with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to help our City beautify vacant lots while preparing post-incarceration citizens for careers in landscaping and property maintenance.
“We’ve expanded economic and educational opportunities for young people by increasing funding for the Community College of Philadelphia by $500,000, appropriating an additional $250,000 to City Year, and investing an extra $150,000 in the Philadelphia Youth Network.
“Philadelphia will continue to be a leader in the fight against climate change thanks to an additional $225,000 for the Philadelphia Energy Authority, which is helping facilities across the City reduce energy consumption and costs with new technologies while also creating jobs.
“We continue to support Women Against Abuse, which operates our domestic violence shelters, by an additional $150,000. The Commission on LGBT Affairs has important work to do on gender, sexual orientation, and racial justice, so we’re increasing their budget by $100,000.
“Our streets and blocks will be cleaner, thanks to a combined $200,000 boost to tree removal and anti-litter services. There’s even something in this budget for the rest of God’s creatures, as is reflected by a $200,000 increase for the Animal Care & Control Team of Philadelphia.
“Perhaps most significantly, Council is expanding avenues to justice for vulnerable people by putting $400,000 more toward legal counseling for renters facing eviction, and $600,000 more to enable the Defenders Association of Philadelphia to provide salary parity to attorneys who work on behalf of low-income and indigent defendants.
“I am thankful to each member of Council for their significant contributions to finalizing the FY2018 budget. There is much work ahead to make Philadelphia the City we want it to be, and I can’t think of a better team to be on than this legislative body.”
The FY2018 operating and capital budget bills await Mayor Jim Kenney’s signature.
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Council President Darrell L. Clarke is serving his second term as the President of Philadelphia City Council. He represents Philadelphia’s 5th Council District. More information at phlcouncil.com/DarrellClarke