September 18 is the deadline for the doomsday budget known as Plan C. If that goes into effect, as I’ve mentioned before, it will fundamentally change Philadelphia. It will be the systematic dismantling of a large part of city government, along with about 3,000 layoffs, including 1,000 police officers.
There has been progress in Harisburg, and I continue to be optimistic that, at least in the short term, disaster can be averted. I think it’s a good sign that everyone is upset – governor, mayor, unions – that’s the hallmark of a decent compromise. the ball is still in Harrisburg’s court as the state legislature tries to reconcile different plans.
In the meantime, Philebrity has a compendium of the ominous letters that are starting to circulate about how the city is, to a large extent, getting ready to shut down. *gulp*
Harrisburg took a big step to letting the city raise sales tax and restructure (*shudder*) pension plan payments (assigning a portion of pensions for new employees to *ulp* 401k plans). Plan C is still set to go into effect on September 18, effectively dismantling large portions of city government (including the Court system?). The unions are not too psyched about the pension plans that will be avvailable for new employees, but its hard to see how we can quibble over details with so much on the line. The revised bill HB 1828 now goes back to the House for another vote. they’re still analyzing, but if we can get through that, we’re pretty much there and we can put Plan C back in the drawer.
What is unclear is whether this is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I know that the sales tax increase has some potential, but I also know there is a lot of fat in city government. Maybe we don’t need to eliminate 3000 jobs, but we do need to do something.
Not that it’s supposed to, but with the second rape in as many weeks in our beautiful and sprawling city park, I wonder how bad it will be when (if?) Plan C goes into effect next month. Remember, Plan C provides that the Fairmount Park Commission ceases operations.
Whether or not the doomsday budget scenario goes into effect will be decided by a series of votes over the next few days. This is exciting, but not in a good way.
Above is Rodin’s Gates of Hell, currently on display at the Rodin Museum here in Philadelphia. Soon we’re going to find out what’s on the other side. As a result of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s failure to pass a state budget which would authorize the city to (1) raise sales tax and (2) restructure pension funds, city government is now being dismantled.
Here’s the mayor speaking at today’s press conference:
This is not a game. This is not an exercise. This is not about leverage, and no one is crying wolf, pointing fingers, or blaming anybody. We have no money.
The cuts will eliminate the jobs of approximately 3000 city employees, but this may not be all bad. there is so much fat that needs to be trimmed from the city’s bloated bureaucracy, that extreem measures will result in a leaner and more efficient government. And while my heart goes out to those that will lose their jobs, that’s not the major problem with the so-called “Plan C” that is now going into effect.
Of greater concern is the brutal evisceration of city services. There will be no more libraries. there will be no more Recreation Department. 1000 police officers – gone. Fairmount Park Commission – gone. The Court system, the district attorney and the public defender – all partially shut down. Office of Arts and Culture – gone.
If Harrisburg comes to our rescue in the next few days with approval for the sales tax increase and pension restructuring, this may not have to happen with such violence. But, right now, the picture is extremely bleak.