5 Reasons Fall Could Be Great for Politics in Philly
All hail the end of summer.
Sure, that means it’s time to stop being lazy and get back to work. But for journalists, that means the dog days are over — actual news will start to happen again, and we can find new things to write and opine about. Hallelujah.
In fact, this stands to be a very newsy fall. And if everything breaks right, it might even be a really good fall, with city and state government finally making some breakthroughs on issues that have needed breakthroughs for a long time.
Here are five things that could make this a very good political fall in Philadelphia:
• The Legislature finally approves Philly’s cigarette tax as a short-term funding solution for the city’s school, then comes up with an equitable funding formula to ensure every public school has the resources it needs to do the job correctly — and maybe, if we’re lucky, reduce property taxes at the same time. Why it could happen: The cigarette tax will be approved because state officials don’t want to watch Philly schools fall all the way apart, especially right before an election. And the funding formula? Everybody agrees it needs to happen. That doesn’t mean it will happen: Hey, it’s Pennsylvania.
• As part of a funding solution for public schools, the state passes the long-needed severance tax on fracking operations in Pennsylvania.Why it could happen: Republicans in the Legislature have edged closer to accepting such a tax as other revenue streams dry up; Tom Wolf, who will almost certainly be elected governor in November, has promised to work for such a tax. And you never know; Tom Corbett could suddenly embrace the idea as a last-ditch Nixon-to-China strategy to win re-election. (Nah.)
• Mayor Nutter signs the bill decriminalizing marijuana in Philadelphia — and the police enforce the law accordingly.Why it could happen: Council passed the bill by a veto-proof majority. That’s a pretty tight spot for the mayor to wriggle out of, no matter how much he seems to want to.
• Mayor Nutter finally signs a law requiring most Philly businesses to offer paid sick leave to their employees. Why it could happen: After two false starts, it probably will. Nutter appointed a task force this summer to make recommendations, and said he was finally on board — it remains to be seen if that body will deliver a real bill, or something that waters down the concept entirely.
• Arthur Goldman’s nearly 2,500 bottle wine collection is preserved from destruction. Why it could happen: Goldman’s the lawyer accused of bootlegging because he brought rare wines in from out of state without the permission, control, or tip of the hat to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. Pennsylvania House Republicans want to decriminalize his act now, probably as part of a broader privatization effort. Which is why it might not happen.
And that doesn’t even really touch on the election race this fall? That’s OK. There’s a full slate of stuff to be done between now and November. It could be a very exciting fall.
Follow @JoelMMathis on Twitter.