Philadelphia could see new schools, updated libraries and even cleaner streets over the next several years if Mayor Jim Kenney’s nearly $5-billion 2020 budget proposal is approved by City Council.
With two months until city elections, Kenney’s address Thursday morning presented a “grand, five-year vision” that could have doubled as a stump speech. The Democrat's proposal added significant investments to education, violence prevention, road repairs and the ongoing battle against opioid addiction.
“I’m proud of what we have achieved so far on vital issues like education, public safety, growing jobs and increasing equity in neighborhoods,” Kenney said of his first term in office.
But imagine what Philadelphia could become over the next five years, he added.
“In 2024, Philadelphians feel safe because our city is safe,” Kenney said. “Our government is more efficient and effective. We’ve earned the trust of taxpayers because we are smart and responsible with their money.”
Kenney’s plan adds a $1.2 billion investment to the Philadelphia School District, which regained local control last year for the first time in nearly two decades. This includes creating five new community schools for neighborhoods that require specialized care and resources.
“We did this because these are all of our kids … and it’s incumbent upon us to what’s right by them so they can reach their full potential,” Kenney said.
The budget, however, doesn't include funding for City Council President Darrell Clarke's proposal to deploy public safety enforcement officers during large-scale events and in walkable areas, the mayor's office said.
But the largest single investment would set aside more than $200 million for reconstruction and resurfacing of city streets. Nearly $12 million of that money would go towards street sweeping over the next five years, including launching and expanding a pilot program that would require people to move their cars.
Other key highlights from the 12-page proposal include:
- Traffic safety improvements, ADA ramp reconstruction, traffic control and signal modernization, restoring historic streets, Roosevelt Boulevard improvements and expanding bike lanes
- Creating "Neighborhood Slow Zones" where speed limits will be posted at 20 mph and adding speed cushions
- $48 million in continued funding for the city’s Rebuild program, which includes repairs for everything from small projects like fixing leaking roofs and replacing boilers to multi-million dollar renovations to community facilities and libraries
- Increased support for the Free Library so all of libraries can be open six days a week
- 50 new police officers and more body worn cameras
- $30 million to Philadelphia’s Roadmap for Safer Communities, including funds for intervention programs, enhanced enforcement for vacant lots and other property violations in high-risk neighborhoods and nearly $12 million in funding for Neighborhood Resource Centers
- $36 million to battle the opioid crisis through Philadelphia Resilience Project, the citywide emergency response focused on Kensington and surrounding neighborhoods