Does Michael Nutter’s Property Tax Stand a Chance?

Philadelphia City Council  | Photo Credit: City Council's Flickr page

Philadelphia City Council | Photo Credit: City Council’s Flickr page

It’s never easy for a mayor to sell a tax hike.

So the fact that Mayor Michael Nutter is asking City Council to raise property taxes by 9 percent to help fund Philadelphia’s cash-strapped schools as 15 of 16 Council members are running for re-election is fairly gutsy. Oh, and he’s also proposing this after property taxes have gone up three times during his tenure. And a year after the first round of property tax bills went out under his Actual Value Initiative, a citywide reassessment that boosted taxes for some residents.

Is this remotely doable?

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Tom Wolf’s Incredible Plan to Overhaul Philly Taxes

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Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled his first budget plan for Pennsylvania Tuesday, and it’s nothing if not ambitious.

What got a little lost in the coverage of Wolf’s budget address, though, is that he is also proposing big changes for Philadelphia’s local taxes. The Wolf administration says his budget would provide about $538 million in tax relief for the city, which would be funded by his planned hike on statewide personal income and sales taxes. Here are the specifics, via Wolf spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan, which he says would all go into effect in 2016-17:

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The Brief: No Standouts at Green-Themed Mayoral Forum

Candidate Conversations

From L to R: Democratic mayoral candidates Nelson Diaz, Doug Oliver, Lynne Abraham, Anthony Williams and Jim Kenney.

Six Democrats vying to be mayor of Philadelphia pitched themselves Tuesday night at a forum where sustainability issues such as bike lanes, plastic bag fees and street cleaning dominated the conversation.

The Next Great City coalition, an association of more than 100 civic organizations, labor unions, businesses and other groups, hosted the event.

At the first mayoral forum of the season, Citified said the candidates were unimpressive. They didn’t exactly wow the crowd Tuesday, either. They were a little sluggish at times, and none of them successfully connected the focus of the event — environmental and small business issues — to a larger, coherent vision for the city.

They didn’t embarrass themselves either, though. And to be fair, part of the candidates’ dullness may have to do with the unavoidable flaw in these types of events: It’s hard to stand out when you only have a couple minutes to respond to each question. The crappy weather was also energy-sapping. WHYY’s Dave Davies, who moderated the forum, spiced things up with a few eccentric questions.

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Court to Hear Challenge to Death Penalty Moratorium

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will hear Philly D.A. Seth Williams’ challenge to Gov. Tom Wolf’s moratorium on executions, the court said Tuesday.

“In a brief order, the justices said they want to hear arguments about whether they should have taken up the matter at all, along with briefs that lay out the legal issues in the underlying dispute,” AP reports. Read more »

Gov. Tom Wolf’s Pennsylvania Budget Announcement

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Governor Tom Wolf is announcing his big, bold agenda today at 11:30 a.m. and Philly Mag’s Holly Otterbein will be providing live updates of the address. (Read the full text of his address below, and read Holly Otterbein’s take on the five boldest elements of Wolf’s budget.)

Watch the live stream here, and follow along on Twitter:



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The Brief: Wolf Primed to Blow the House (and Senate) Down?

Tom Wolf

All eyes on Tom Wolf.

At 11:30 a.m. this morning, Pennsylvania’s new Governor will propose a budget—really a governing agenda—that is expected to be more sweeping and ambitious than anything to have come out of the governor’s mansion in quite some time. At its core, reports suggest, is Wolf’s plan to fundamentally restructure the state’s approach to taxes, and to squeeze enough new revenue out of the overhaul to both close a $2 billion deficit and sink significant new dollars into school districts across the Pennsylvania. Read more »

Bill Green Gives the Backstory of His SRC Ouster

Bill green

If he had been shaken by the events of the last 24 hours, Bill Green wasn’t showing it when he appeared late Monday afternoon at Philadelphia School District Headquarters. He was all smiles and handshakes as he entered a meeting where students were being asked to weigh in on an issue — the district’s budget woes — that adults haven’t been able to fully resolve.

There wasn’t even an awkward moment when Matthew Stanski, the district’s chief financial officer, referred to Green as “Chairman Green” during public comments. Green — for now, anyway — is no longer the chairman of the School Reform Commission. Gov. Tom Wolf announced Sunday that he was replacing Green with fellow commissioner Marjorie Neff. Green has said he will seek a court ruling challenging Wolf’s authority to do so.

He told Philly Mag that events started rolling on Saturday. Read more »

GOP Leaders Slam Tom Wolf for Booting Bill Green

Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Rep. Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, speaks Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa.

Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Rep. Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny.

Republican leaders in the General Assembly are decrying Gov. Tom Wolf‘s decision this week to oust Bill Green as chairman of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission. The move comes after Green went against Wolf’s wishes and voted this February to create seven new charter schools of 39 that were being proposed. (Five charters were ultimately approved.)

Wolf has appointed Marjorie Neff, who voted against every charter school application last month, to serve as the new chair of the SRC.

“It is unfortunate that Governor Wolf has, once again, chosen to side with public employee unions, in this case to the detriment of the children of Philadelphia,” said Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati.

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