“Today, Mayor Kenney introduced a $4.17 billion spending plan that seeks to achieve ambitious goals for greater investment in neighborhoods and children — goals that I share.
“I fully support expansion of quality pre-K programs in the most challenged neighborhoods, upgrading parks and recreation facilities where investment is sorely needed, and establishing community schools. How we reach these goals, however, is just as important as the goals themselves. The means by which we fund these important programs must be fair and equitable.
“I believe that the most basic theme of every budget season should be fairness: fairness in educational and employment opportunities, fairness in access to public amenities, fairness in housing quality and affordability, and fairness in the criminal justice system. Since I was first elected Council President in 2012, Council has raised taxes every year in order to address state funding cuts to our state-controlled school district. State disinvestment in Philadelphia public schools and local taxes Council raised to blunt the blow to our communities were deeply unfair to local taxpayers.
“As we begin a public dialogue on Philadelphia’s present and future, we must be diligent in examining all funding paths in the context of prior tax increases and broad consensus on what basic fairness means.
“Only when we are certain that City Hall is doing all it can to make sure everyone is paying what they owe and paying their fair share, should we levy additional taxes on those who can least afford them. Only when we can ensure that public works projects are completed by an inclusive, representative, and local workforce, should we make major taxpayer investments.
“I encourage all residents, businesses, and organizations that share our vision for a stronger, fairer, and more prosperous City to participate in the budget hearings process.”
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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