“Today, City Council approved a budget package that provides revenue for essential services and makes bold investments toward a future of shared health and prosperity. In a time of strong economic recovery for an elite few, government must extend opportunities to those facing obstacles not of their own making. No city or society can achieve true greatness if the challenges of children born into poverty or into communities that have historically suffered from discrimination are not addressed.
“Much has been made by the media of the contentiousness of this budget process, but tension between the executive and legislature is both healthy and by design. I congratulate Mayor Kenney on his first budget, and I thank my 16 colleagues on Council for asking the tough questions. The final amended package is fiscally responsible and progressive.
“Not every vote today was unanimous, and those dissenting had valid concerns. The research and dialogue that got us here will continue, most immediately in hearings of the Committee on Fiscal Stability and Intergovernmental Cooperation which will be scheduled shortly.
“As advocates for underrepresented and marginalized communities, City Council will continue to exercise due diligence during implementation of pre-K expansion, community schools, and Rebuild Philadelphia – our most significant public works project since the Great Recession. We expect and demand diversity and inclusion in programs funded by the beverage tax.
“We also cannot let the euphoria of today’s historic vote distract us from our most pressing challenge: a woefully underfunded school district. I am heartened by today’s announcement that the state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a landmark education funding lawsuit this September. In the meantime, I urge the General Assembly to heed the spirit of a new school funding formula by providing sufficient funding for all public schools in Pennsylvania.
“I also continue to call on the School District of Philadelphia and the School Reform Commission to come back to the bargaining table. Philadelphia public school educators deserve both a raise and a fair contract. The time is now.”
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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