Kenney touts Philly school-funding plan he says won’t raise taxes

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 Mayoral candidate Jim Kenney presents his school-funding plan with the help of longtime Philadelphia teacher and librarian Rachelle Nocito at Philadelphia Cathedral Early Learning Center in West Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Mayoral candidate Jim Kenney presents his school-funding plan with the help of longtime Philadelphia teacher and librarian Rachelle Nocito at Philadelphia Cathedral Early Learning Center in West Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The Philadelphia School District wants $100 million from the city to help address its financial struggles. Mayoral candidate Jim Kenney says he can raise that money without raising taxes.

Kenney outlined his school-funding plan Monday at a University City preschool, surrounded by tricycles, miniature chairs and a wooden jungle gym.

His $105 million plan involves selling off the city’s most marketable commercial tax liens and adjusting the land value of tax-abated properties to bring in more revenue. He also wants to trim fat from city departments by using zero-base budgeting. For more details, click here to read the full coverage from NinetyNine, our city elections blog.

Kenney said it’s a better alternative to Mayor Michael Nutter’s proposal for raising property taxes by 9 percent to generate a sustaining source of revenue for the city’s schools.

“I want a fair-funding formula statewide, so we don’t have to have this conversation every year, but until that happens we’re going to have to look [for funding] year-to-year,” Kenney said. 

Kenney also highlighted his proposal for universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds that he said would cost $60 million over three years. Two-thirds of the funding would come from the city and the remaining third from nonprofits.  

According to Kenney, these are actions he could take as mayor without approval from City Council – and without waiting for what he calls “Superman from Harrisburg.”

“There’s certain things we can do that will cost us some money and some things we can do that won’t cost us very much money at all to provide a better school environment,” he said.

One of Kenney’s challengers, Nelson Diaz, was quick to criticize the plan, calling it “yet another inadequate Band-Aid for this broken leg.”

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