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Called a ‘Sneak,’ Kenney Open About Spending in New Budget

Mayor Kenney proposed increased spending once again in his fifth annual budget address, though taxes would not be higher

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A bit past the halfway mark of Mayor Jim Kenney's 34-minute budget address at City Hall on Thursday, he arrived at what was fully expected to be the most controversial topic of his speech: opioid abuse.

Kenney, a staunch supporter of the controversial plans for supervised injection sites in Philadelphia, reiterated his approval and hope for eventual openings of such facilities.

"While I understand that some of you disagree with the policy, and have concerns with how and when community members are consulted, we will continue to work with advocates to support opening Overdose Prevention Sites to save lives and help connect people to treatment," he said. "We will take a greater role going forward to ensure community conversations happen this year, as they did extensively in 2018."

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Chaos did not ensue inside City Council chambers, as it has in years past — and mayors past — during controversial topics at budget addresses.

But one resident in opposition of injection sites did chime in.

Mayor Jim Kenney reiterated his support for supervised injection sites in Philadelphia, and proposed increased funding for anti-opioid abuse programs in the 2020-2021 budget during his annual address. A protester called him a "sneak" repeatedly for the way the city's first proposed injection site was announced for South Philadelphia.

"You're a sneak, and everyone knows you're a sneak," a woman said repeatedly as she walked calmly and steadily from the back of the room to one of the exits. "You're a sneak, and everyone knows you're a sneak."

Kenney briefly paused, before continuing to talk about his funding plans to fight opioid addiction and overdoses.

The $5.2 billion spending plan, if approved by City Council, does not raise any taxes. But it finds more funding for numerous programs and initiatives thanks to expected increases in existing revenue streams like the city wage, property and business income taxes during the next fiscal year starting July 1.

The progressive mayor's budget would raise spending by nearly 30% since he took office five years ago.

Kenney acknowledged the city's financial good fortunes in recent years that haved allowed for more spending.

"Without fiscal stability, the bold investments in education, community college, street sweeping, and modernizing our technology would not be feasible," he said.

These are some highlights of increased spending.

Mayor Jim Kenney wants to ramp up the Philadelphia Office of Sustainability and his Greenworks initiative by increasing spending on climate change prevention. He also pledged continued support by his administration of the Paris Climate Accord.

$45 Million: Philadelphia School District

The school district will get a boost in city support. It's an installment of a multi-year increase.

$18 Million: Community College of Philadelphia

More than $10 million will go to a new 5-year, $60 million Octavius Catto Scholarship program for community college students. Another $8 million is going to operations and capital investments.

$23 Million: Public Safety Initiatives

Several crime prevention programs include $8 million to decrease recidivism and $1 million for prisons to replace fees charged to inmates. Also included in the budget is nearly $5 million for the creation of a full-time HazMat company in the Fire Department.

$22 Million: Neighborhood, Anti-Drug Programs

Combating the opioid epidemic will get another $3.3 million annually. Construction of health and recreation centers will get $8 million in new funding.

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