Nutter, state Republicans to join forces on school funding?

    Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter wants to raise money for the cash-strapped School District, mostly through tax hikes on alcohol and cigarettes. But he needs Harrisburg to pass legislation to make that a reality.

    At an editorial board meeting with NewsWorks on Tuesday, Nutter said some Republican state lawmakers have been talking to him about joining forces. He said they, too, are concerned about funding for their local schools.

    “I was in a meeting with some House Republicans who were lamenting issues related to school funding, having nothing to do with Philadelphia,” Nutter said, “and asked if we would join in a coalition about this particular issue.”

    Nutter would not disclose to whom he has been talking yet.

    To close the Philadelphia School District’s $304 million budget gap, officials are asking for $60 million from the city, $120 million from the state and $133 million in labor union concessions.

    If the money doesn’t come through, officials said schools will open in September without guidance counselors, nurses, librarians and sports. 

    “That’s not school,” Nutter said.

    Last week, Senate GOP spokesman Erik Arneson said lawmakers are aware that other school districts are struggling, but he doubts Philadelphia will ultimately get everything it wants.

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