(PHILADELPHIA) April 15, 2021 – In response to Mayor Kenney’s Sixth Budget Address, Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson (At Large) issued the following statement:
“I remain hopeful and optimistic that together, City Council and the Administration can finalize a budget that reflects our needs as a city. The American Rescue Plan funding will allow us to bring back important services and invest in other new areas, but we must be conscious of our City’s fund balance and our lack of financial preparedness for future economic downturns, as well as our ongoing recovery from COVID-19.
“The focus of my office will be gun violence prevention and intervention; ongoing support for small business owners; workforce development for young people and adults that prepares them for family sustaining and supporting jobs in growing industries; climate change and environmental justice; and arts and culture. We need to have a broad vision that prioritizes equity, sustainability, and economic opportunity in every neighborhood, and I will be preparing to ask tough questions of Departmental leadership about their goals and metrics to ensure that everything we fund moves us one step closer to the safe, healthy, equitable, climate resilient city we all deserve.
“As Chair of City Council’s Committee on the Environment, I was disappointed that there was not a single mention of climate change in today’s budget address. While the Mayor has made significant commitments to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, achieving zero waste, and protecting our natural resources, we must integrate this work into all City operations and understand how our decisions today will impact our resiliency tomorrow. We need detailed plans to achieve these goals within the named timelines, and I will be preparing a significant number of questions for the Administration about how they plan to achieve the goals they’ve set.
“The renewed focus on Air Management is crucial to address environmental justice in our city. Black and brown communities are disproportionately impacted by toxic pollution, contributing to the vast disparities in health and life expectancy between our poorest and wealthiest zip codes. While additional funding is important, we need to take additional steps to reduce toxic emissions and ensure we create transparent and accountable processes that allow for real meaningful involvement in decisions that impact the health and safety of our communities.
“I’m especially glad to see the restoration of the Office of Workforce and additional funding for same day work and pay and transitional jobs. Last year, I pushed to maintain $1 million of workforce funding, knowing the crucial role it will play in our recovery. In addition to the reinstatement of this Office, I will continue to push Departments to think about the opportunities they are creating for apprenticeships for young people, as well as how we ensure we are providing them with the skills necessary to find careers in our fastest growing industries.
“The Mayor’s additional investments in gun violence prevention and intervention are important, but we need to see more about how Departments will collaborate effectively and elevate gun violence reduction to a top priority. We need to measure the effectiveness of the programs we are funding to ensure that we are seeing results, and we need to raise up the voices of communities who will be crucial to the success of these programs.
“I applaud the Administration for their work to address the multiple ongoing crises our City faces, and I look forward to the hard work ahead.”