PHILADELPHIA — March 1, 2018, – Councilmember Helen Gym (At Large) released the following statement on Mayor Kenney’s budget proposal:
Mayor Kenney’s proposed budget is a crucial investment into our public schools, ensuring a long-term commitment toward financial stability for Philadelphia schoolchildren. I commend the Mayor for his bold leadership and vision.
For years, public school advocates have talked about the traumatic impact repeated deficits and budget cuts have had on teaching and learning. In response, this budget presents a five-year funding strategy that shares the financial cost across different sectors. I thank the advocates who have long called for a more equitable approach to school funding. There is more work that can be done in this area, particularly around a role for corporations and mega non-profits as well as a revisiting of the city’s generous property tax abatement.
The significant investment effort by the City of Philadelphia in its schools now shines a light on the state’s responsibility. City Council, under the leadership of Council President Darrell Clarke (5th District), has stepped up time and again to cover school deficits that the state has ignored – even when the Philadelphia public schools were under state management. Philadelphians are paying their fair share, but our state is not.
Despite this enormous investment in our schools, we are a long way off from an adequate or fair budget for our children. We must continue to demand that Harrisburg do more than funneling modest increases through its funding formula. The state must deliver on an aggressive approach towards fair funding that brings school districts across Pennsylvania to adequacy on a rapid timeline. School districts also deserve a charter reimbursement to offset the astronomical costs of charters, which will otherwise cannibalize the budgets of their host school districts.
The city’s proposed investment is huge, and I look forward to working with my colleagues through this budget process.
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Councilmember Helen Gym was sworn in as an At-Large Member of Council in 2016. Her primary concerns include addressing widespread poverty in Philadelphia, particularly through an emphasis on building a quality public education system. For more information, visit phlcouncil.com/HelenGym.