Philly mayoral candidates react to Nutter’s budget proposal

 Superintendent William Hite (second from right) looks on as Mayor Nutter proposed a budget calling for a property-tax increase to help fund Philadelphia's schools. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Superintendent William Hite (second from right) looks on as Mayor Nutter proposed a budget calling for a property-tax increase to help fund Philadelphia's schools. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Before City Hall closed its doors early due to the snow on Thursday, Mayor Michael Nutter proposed a budget that included a “9.34 percent property tax millage rate increase to raise $105 million to support Philadelphia school children.” (Translation for the jargon-impaired: Property-tax hike.)

You can read Nutter’s full address via this PDF.

This being a blog about Nutter’s successor, though, we reached out to the Democratic candidates for their reactions (most notably, to the proposed tax increase).

Here’s what they had to say:

Lynne Abraham: “Public schools are the City’s most urgent priority. Mayor Nutter’s proposal to increase property tax in aid of schools deserves careful consideration, but what is needed is a complete analysis and rationalization of our entire tax structure. Everything needs to be on the table.”

Nelson Diaz: “Mayor Nutter’s final budget has made clear that we’ve reached the end of the road with our current tax system. Without fundamental, soup-to-nuts reform, we’re going to continue to be forced into choosing between nearly double-digit tax increases on residential property tax payers or funding our schools.

“We need to shift the burden off of small businesses and the struggling middle class and broaden our tax base. There’s a better way forward, and I’ll work with the City Council and with Harrisburg to make these kind of ‘damned if you, damned if you don’t’ choices a thing of the past.”

Jim Kenney: “We undoubtedly need to raise revenue for our schools but we can’t do it entirely on the backs of our working families.”

Doug Oliver: “I’m thankful that Mayor Nutter’s budget offers a plan to provide for our underfunded School District and I appreciate that his solution looks beyond just this year’s shortfall. I applaud his commitment to educating our children and I stand fully in support of that outcome.

“Ideally, however, I would have preferred a local funding source that didn’t necessitate a tax increase. I’m concerned about the impact of additional taxes on a population that can afford them least. Perhaps a property tax increase of this size could be paired with a reduction in wage and business taxes, both offsetting the financial impact on Philadelphia residents while also serving to make our tax structure more competitive and business friendly.”

Milton Street: “Dead before it left his lips. Nobody’s gonna vote for a tax hike in an election year. Mean, 9.3 percent? Get out of here.”

Anthony Williams: Still awaiting reaction, but the school-funding proposal he announced on Wednesday addressed many of the same issues.

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