Sam Katz’s Audacious, Radical Plan to Save City Schools (and the Pension Fund, Too)

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By the inimitable @dhm.

Citizen Sam | Created by the inimitable Dan McQuade, aka @dhm[1].

Sam Katz is acting more like a mayoral candidate than the mayoral candidates themselves.

Thursday afternoon Katz launched a new website—Citizen Sam[2]—and dropped what is, by far, the most comprehensive policy paper of the mayoral race to date: an ambitious, even radical, heavily-footnoted proposal to eliminate the school funding and pension crises in about, oh, 82-fell swoops; without raising taxes.

Here’s the gist:

Now can we put aside the notion that Katz still isn’t seriously considering an Independent mayoral run? For those new to the city, Katz is a businessman turned three-time mayoral candidate (who very nearly won once) turned amateur historian (he produces the documentary series Philadelphia: The Great Experiment[3].)

Is his plan workable? Definitely not, at least in the context of our current politics. You saw what happened when Nutter tried to sell PGW. How would Council have responded if Nutter had simultaneously pitched selling PGW, leasing the airport, auctioning off curbside parking and the Water Department too?

Katz anticipates these sorts of objections. Towards the end of his 12-page proposal he writes:

Anyone who has read this memorandum to this point is likely thinking about all of reasons, obstacles and political factors that render this thinking impractical in Philadelphia. I’ve been here all my life and know that getting even little things done is a big deal. But this is a new time of bold thinking, optimism and demographic change. The momentum we’ve built is only sustainable if we bend the poverty curve. Will Philadelphia move towards a 35 percent rate of poverty or towards a 25 percent rate? The answer to that question will determine whether we can sustain a viable future for the city. If anyone knows of a way to do that aside from creating an educated workforce and citizenry, I’d love to hear it.

It’s well-said, but it doesn’t exactly answer the question of how Katz (if he were to run for mayor, and if he were to win) can achieve any of this. Still, in contrast to the incrementalist, thin, proposals the Democratic contenders have been offering, this comes across as bold and audacious if, yes, a bit radical.

Expect more of this sort of stuff from Katz in the weeks and months to come.

Check out his plan in full below, or watch Katz explains the basics of his plan in the video below.

Closing the Educational Funding Gap March 12 2015 by PhiladelphiaMagazine

Endnotes:
  1. @dhm: https://twitter.com/dhm
  2. Citizen Sam: http://www.citizensam.net/
  3. Philadelphia: The Great Experiment: http://www.historyofphilly.com/

Source URL: https://www.phillymag.com/citified/2015/03/12/sam-katz-school-funding-plan/