Philadelphia, March 1, 2018 – Councilwoman Cindy Bass (8th District) on Thursday issued the following statement on Mayor Jim Kenney’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposal:
This year in Philadelphia we’ve made huge strides in our school system. We abolished the School Reform Commission and restored local control over the School District of Philadelphia. Still, the District faces a nearly $1 billion deficit by the year 2023. I support taking steps to help fund the District and to avoid a costly deficit that would ravage the necessary resources our students and teachers need to flourish.
Because of this, my office will be working with other stakeholders to explore additional revenue sources to help fund our schools. I plan to meet with city officials and release details about alternative funding sources shortly.
I commend Mayor Jim Kenney for his dedication to funding our School District, along with his pledge to help support our first responders, help combat the opioid crisis, and improve the safety of our streets. However, right now I cannot support raising property taxes as a viable policy prescription to closing the School District of Philadelphia deficit. In the poorest big city in the country, the notion of placing yet another tax burden on our homeowners is not the answer. Many of these residents cannot even afford to make the necessary repairs to their homes, much less take on additional property tax increases.
I also cannot in good conscience support a property tax increase on our most vulnerable citizens while a 10-year tax abatement that largely benefits more affluent residents still exists. We have to think about who we are asking to help shoulder the City’s responsibility to its children. The legislative process allows for productive debate of any proposal brought before City Council, and I look forward to an in-depth discussion of all the available options.
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Councilwoman Cindy Bass represents the 8th Council District, which includes Germantown, Mt. Airy, Nicetown, Tioga, Chestnut Hill, portions of Logan, and West Oak Lane. She is Chair of Council’s committees on Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs and Public Health and Human Services.