About a month after Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney revealed his plans to address the city’s pension program, housing concerns, school system plans and efforts being made to battle drug abuse in his annual budget, City Council held hearings on the S4.4 billion budget proposal.
The budget and five-year plan for Philadelphia sets aside new funding for certain programs.
The budget -- which calls for a three percent increase in spending year over year -- puts a focus on job creation and taxes. Kenney hopes to lower Philadelphia's hefty wage tax to under 3.7 percent by 2022 -- the lowest level since the 1970s. He will also ask council to commit to funding the Pension Fund by 80 percent in the next 13 years.
Kenney wants to put $1.9 million toward the opioid problem after thousands of hospital visits and 900 deaths reported in the city alone last year. The money would help improve the distribution of Narcan, an overdose reversal drug, it would also fund a campaign aimed at the highest prescribing health care providers. And, it would also develop a real time data base to track openings at treatment facilities.
A little more than a million dollars would go toward housing. It would support families exiting shelters as well as serve as an intervention to help families and people who are chronically homeless.
The budget proposes more than a $900,000 increase in lead poisoning prevention. That money would allow the city to tackle lead paint in nearly double the amount of homes it can address now.
Some of the ways to fund the new program include the controversial sugary beverage tax, a.k.a. "soda tax," which is expected to bring in $92.4 million dollars in 12 months. Soda tax opponents plan to protest Kenney’s speech Thursday.
The biggest cut in Kenney's budget plan is slashing the Community Development Fund by 11.45 percent.