State and City revenue collections have been less than anticipated this year.
Reviewing each line in the budget, House budgeteers are looking at expenditures which can be reduced and changes to tax credits which may no longer be affordable, as well as considering responsible revenue sources, such as fully privatizing the adult beverage industry. The same holds through for City Council members which see a major gap in Public School funding.
Both bodies are exploring ways to raise income, wary of a negative response in November from tax payers. Look for additional fees and renewals to be one sure bet.
As the state legislature prepares to vote this month the FY 2014-2015 budget, State Sen. LeAnna M. Washington (D-Northwest) said she expects an unusually long and complicated budget process made even more difficult by a billion-plus-dollar revenue deficit. She expressed hope such a severe shortfall would bring additional revenue options to the negotiation table.
â€œIn my 20 years in the legislature, I have seen some difficult budgets,â€ Washington said. â€œThis Governor seems eager to ensure this yearâ€™s process will be among the worst. However, I remain committed to working with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to fully fund our public-education system, foster job creation, support our social resources, and find responsible and fair revenue streams.â€
City Councilman at Large David Oh is proposing an amendment to the Cityâ€™s operating budget of $74,160,136. For the second year in a row, Councilman Oh has analyzed the Mayorâ€™s proposed budget to find patterns where money was allocated in excess of the needs of various departments.
â€œLast year, my staff and I found $48 million that I proposed could be used to offset the millage rate of real-estate taxes,â€ said Councilman Oh. â€œThis year we were able to go through a similar analysis to find $74 million that could be used for other things such infusing the school district with much needed funding.â€
The amendment to the operating budget will be offered during the Committee of the Whole as Council deliberates the passage of next yearâ€™s budget.
City Councilman at Large W. Wilson Goode, Jr., as part of a supermajority of City Council, has introduced a New Living Wage Standard Bill permanently raising the cityâ€™s minimum-wage standard. The employers that shall comply with the minimum compensation standards established by the proposed ordinance are: (1) The City of Philadelphia, including all its agencies, departments and offices; (2) For-profit Service Contractors, which receive or are subcontractors at any tier on contract(s) for $10,000 or more from the City in a 12-month period, with annual gross receipts of more than $1,000,000; (3) Non-profit Service Contractors which receive or are subcontractors at any tier on contract(s) from the City of more than $100,000 in a 12-month period; (4) Recipients of City leases, concessions, or franchises, or subcontractors or subrecipients thereof at any tier; (5)City financial-aid recipients. Compliance shall be required for a period of five (5) years following receipt of aid; and (6) Public agencies which receive contract(s) for $10,000 or more from the City in a 12-month period.
Mayor Michael A. Nutter has already signed an Executive Order initiating requirements for city contracts that mandates that city contractors provide a minimum wage of $12/hour beginning Jan. 1, 2015. The Executive Order also requires that contractors meet that same minimum wage standard for their first-tier subcontractors for the first time in city history. Councilman Goodeâ€™s bill would codify the executive order into law, but it would more broadly apply the standard to subcontractors and subrecipients at any tier.
With the Pennsylvania General Assembly moving forward on legislation to legalize medical cannabis, State Sen. Anthony H. Williams (D-W. Phila.) will hold a forum next month, in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, to discuss the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana in the Commonwealth.
The forum will begin with registration at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jun. 14, in the Fitts Auditorium, 3501 Sansom Street, on Penn Lawâ€™s campus.
Williams said the wide-ranging discussion that is expected during the forum will include dialogue about how potential revenue from a tax on legal marijuana would help Pennsylvania increase its investments in education and impact the stateâ€™s pension problem, plus other potential uses of that new revenue.
â€œMy forum promises to be an interesting, informative and inspirational inaugural step into a controversial subject,â€ the Senator said. â€œI know there is more than one side to this story, which is why this conversation will be all-encompassing and include voices of opposition, messages of support, and questions of possibility.
State Sen. Larry Farnese (D-S. Phila.) is urging constitutes to get a free 511PA App, available for Apple and Android users, that is hands and eyes free! It covers 40,000 miles of state roads and some of New Jersey and West Virginia. The app announces traffic jams and other travel notifications so you can keep your eyes on the road.
Many of the state roads and bridges will be under construction because of the transportation funding bill passed last year. This app will help you plan your trips ahead of time. You can also get weather updates, traffic speeds and there is a link to other travel resources.