July 28: Local taxis embrace e-hailing | Wolf on state’s education funding share | Clamors for transportation choice | Philly as blight fighting model

In an interview with the Associated Press, Democratic Gubernatorial nominee Tom Wolf proposed increasing the state’s share of education funding to 50%, up from 32%. (For context, the recent high was 44% during the Rendell years.) Wolf proposed paying for this with a higher and more distributively progressive income tax, matched with dollar-for-dollar cuts in local school property taxes. 

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Elizabeth Fiedler reports incumbent Philly taxi companies are preparing for the eventual arrival of Uber X and Lyft by launching e-hailing apps of their own. “‘Companies like Uber have forced the hand of the taxi industry across the country to embrace technology, and I think it’s been a great thing,’ Everett Abitbol, the owner of Freedom Taxi, said.”

Keystone Crossroads asked Philadelphians what ideas and amenities they would steal from other cities, and Chris Satullo says the theme of transportation choice dominated the results. “People who have visited or lived in European cities tended to comment how far SEPTA falls short on frequency of schedule, ease of use and aesthetics of stations. Still in the transit vein, many were geared up for a better system of safe, dedicated bike lanes. And for pedestrian malls.”

Matt Stringer at Philly Living says Brickstone’s transformative 112-unit mixed-use project for the 1100 block of Chestnut is getting underway. Brickstone believes this area of Center City is the “hole in the donut” that, when filled, will help connect the various mixed-use corridors to each side that have been experiencing increased reinvestment.

The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania is pointing to Philadelphia’s blight fighting strategy as a model of best practices for other cities across the state. Maura Kennedy, the former Director of Strategic Initiatives at L&I in Philly, is now the Chief of Building Inspection for the Peduto administration in Pittsburgh, and is helping HAP promote their new toolkit. Perhaps the Nutter administration could use a refresher on why this is important – they’re now down to just one inspector working on strategic blight fighting.

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