Philadelphia mayor says opioid overdoses a crisis, calls for additional spending

Mayor Jim Kenney addresses the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce at the annual Mayor's Luncheon at the Downtown Marriott.(Emma Lee/WHYY)

Mayor Jim Kenney addresses the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce at the annual Mayor's Luncheon at the Downtown Marriott.(Emma Lee/WHYY)

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney wants the city to spend more money on treating drug addiction.

As opioid addiction continues to skyrocket in communities across the country, Kenney said Thursday that he will ask city council to pay for more treatment services in his next budget.

“Philadelphia is facing an opioid crisis so gripping that we lost 900 people to overdoses last year. Not to mention, the unknown number lost to families and friends, living along the railroad tracks in Kensington or on the floor of a rundown building,” said Kenney during his second annual address to the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

Kenney’s announcement comes on the heels of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s $10 million budget request to provide Naloxone to first-responders.

The drug is used to revive people who have overdosed.

During his roughly 25-minute speech, Kenney also said he has a plan to shore up the city’s pension fund.

It’s currently less than 50 percent funded. Kenney said his plan would bring it 80 percent funded in 13 years.

“This plan includes increased contributions by employees, moving to a combination defined benefit/401k for new city workers, dedicating additional revenue from the sales tax, and improving investment returns while lowering our costs,” said Kenney.

The plan would need to get through Philadelphia’s city council and could face opposition from unions representing city employees, including the Fraternal Order of Police and District Council 47.

Kenney additionally said his upcoming budget will call for no new taxes, as well as continuing to lower the city’s wage and business taxes.

In June, City Council passed Kenney’s controversial tax on all sugar-sweentened and diet drinks. The additonal funds will be used to offer more children access to quality prekindergarten programs, as well as improve recreation centers and libraries.

Kenney’s next budget proposal will be announced March 2.

Read today’s prepared remarks here

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