The Green Party of Philadelphia (GPOP, www.gpop.org) objects to Mayor Michael Nutter’s budget for Fiscal 2016 because it heaps the cost of school services upon poor and working people. Meeting on April 22 at Cavanaugh’s Restaurant in University City, Green Party members rejected Nutter’s proposed tax increases and urged Philadelphia’s City Council to tax the wealthy to pay for the public education of future citizens.
In his budget address on March 5, Nutter requested that City Council provide $103 million more for public education. Green Party members agree with this request. Chris Robinson, a member of the GPOP City Committee from Germantown (Ward 59), said, “For too long, our city and state leaders have starved public education. Mayor Nutter should have made this request six years ago. The Green Party has highlighted this problem for many years, and we will continue to argue for a larger investment in public education.”
While visiting Kensington Health Sciences Academy on April 9, Nutter added some additional criteria for funding an increase in public school investment. He said, “Let’s cut the phoniness. Let’s be serious about educating kids.” The press reported that Nutter then asked for “concrete, achievable, and annually-recurring plans” to come up with the cash.
Nutter would like to pay for this investment with another increase in property tax, which is not supported by the Green Party. The Green Party City Committee decided in 2012 that the best way to pay for quality public education was to get the money from giant businesses and mega nonprofits.
The Green Party has long opposed the take-backs forced on school employees by a School Reform Commission appointed by failed-Governor Tom Corbett. The Green Party has also opposed tax increases on poor and working people, like the cigarette tax passed by City Council in 2014.
Since 2012, the Green Party has urged City Council and the Mayor to fund an increased investment in public education using methods which are concrete, achievable and annually recurring. Any of the following three methods, which will tax the wealthy, will meet the criteria of both Mayor Nutter and Green Party members:
CUT THE FREE PASS. City Council should reduce the current 10-year property-tax free pass to just five years. The current free pass benefits the new, the few, and the well-to-do, while making long-time residents and businesses pay more.
GOOD NEIGHBOR PAYMENTS. Right now, the mega nonprofits (think, Hahnemann University Hospital, the University of Pennsylvania, and others) pay no taxes on their profitable property. Since these nonprofits use city services (think, police and fire), Mayor Nutter now has a duty to issue an executive order on such payments, which was requested of him by Council on March 26.
USE AND OCCUPANCY (U&O) REFORM. Philadelphia’s 2013 AVI reform of real estate taxes shifted $200 million dollars away from businesses and onto homeowners. Instead of another property tax increase like the one requested by Nutter, City Council should raise the U&O tax rate on big businesses to restore fairness to the property-tax code. This change should exempt small businesses.
These three funding methods would allow poor and working citizens to see a better education for their children, while having that investment paid for by giant businesses and mega nonprofits that require a better-educated supply of labor and customers.
Hillary Kane, treasurer of GPOP from Cedar Park (Ward 46), said, “Education of all children should be one of our main responsibilities.” Kane, who is also a delegate to the Green Party National Committee, points to the Green Party Platform, which says, “We must stop disinvestment in education and instead put it at the top of our social and economic agenda. Effective schools have sufficient resources. Too many of our teachers are overworked, underpaid, and starved of key materials.”
The Green Party has also published a proposal for Philadelphia’s public schools, which describes the structural changes needed to improve public education. This document can be found by visiting http://www.gpop.org/news/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/2012GPOPNewsletterSchools.pdf.
The Green Party is an independent political party founded on the four pillars of social justice, nonviolence, grassroots democracy, and ecological wisdom. For more information about the Green Party of Philadelphia, please telephone 215-243-7103 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.