From Mayor Jim Kenney to Gov. Josh Shapiro to President Joe Biden, Philadelphians are waiting to see what these budgetary spending plans mean for them.
ABOVE PHOTO: Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro delivers his first budget address to a joint session of the state legislature, Tuesday, March 7, 2023, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. (Dan Gleiter/The Patriot-News via AP)
By Denise Clay-Murray
Right now, political candidates are going around the city and in some cases the country telling voters and potential voters what they hope to do should they be elected.
But whether or not they’re able to do those things depends on how much money has been budgeted for such things as education, public safety, healthcare and poverty.
Over the last few weeks, the city, state, and federal governments have unveiled their fiscal year 2024 budgets, and Philadelphians will be watching to see what they hope the city will receive, or not receive, from the various budgets.
As he approaches the end of a second term that included the COVID-19 pandemic, and record levels of gun violence, Mayor Jim Kenney unveiled his final budget on March 2 in City Council chambers.
The highlights of the plan include $419 million in education funding, $282 million of which will go to the School District of Philadelphia. The city is also investing $6.7 million over the next five years to create supportive housing for the chronically homeless and $3.2 million to create a tiny home community.
Kenney’s final budget also includes a two-year, $62 million pilot program that will provide free SEPTA fares to people living near or below the poverty line, $9 million for the SEPTA Key Advantage program for City workers, and $233 million in such programs as the Group Violence Intervention initiative and conflict resolution training.
Some of this investment will depend on what the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania gives the City of Philadelphia in terms of allocations.
Toward that end, Governor Josh Shapiro unveiled the first budget of his gubernatorial term. Among the things included in it is a call for an increase in the minimum wage, a call for universal in-school breakfast for all the Commonwealth’s schools, a $66.7 million expansion of the Child Care Works program and more investment in community-based solutions to gun violence.
Shapiro also addressed the recent Commonwealth Court decision finding that the Commonwealth was underfunding all its schools. The budget includes a proposed billion-dollar increase that the governor referred to as a “down payment” on the Commonwealth’s obligation.
Another focus of the Pennsylvania budget when it came to education was increasing funding for vocational-technical school programs.
It was also a focus of President Joe Biden’s budget presentation when he came to Philadelphia last week to unveil it.
Biden presented his budget to Americans from the Finishing Trades Institute in Northeast Philadelphia last week as a means of spotlighting the importance of vo-tech education. Many of the proposals in his 2024 budget mimic Pennsylvania’s priorities including reducing the price of insulin, expanding access to healthcare for all, working toward increasing the amount of affordable housing and paying for it by creating a minimum tax for billionaires while reinstating the child tax credit that was created at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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