As a young adult from the city of the Philadelphia, studying graduate social work at the University of Pennsylvania, I fervently disagree with Tom Corbett’s decision to cut $4 billion to $5 billion from the state budget. Now before you ignore this submission on the grounds that I am a tree-hugging, ultra-liberal,
Birkenstock-wearing, save-the-orphans student, I declare that I am not. I was raised in this city, attended the public schools, take the local transportation, engage in the recreational programs and cheer the frustrating sports teams of the city. As a citizen of this city I know that Philadelphia cannot afford to cut its
budget on the programs suggested by Gov. Corbett.
Now I understand the governor ran on the platform of not increasing state taxes so I am not surprised by his continual support of this practice but Governor, how do you positively build a new state budget for next year while suffering from a $5 billion dollar loss in spending? Furthermore, what benefits are there for Philadelphians for staying in this state, specifically economical and educational, instead of relocating south as many others from the surrounding areas have done and will do?
As Karen Heller recently wrote, are Philadelphians satisfied with embracing low expectations? Do we voice our anger towards the city government or Harrisburg or do we simply move out of the city in which we were raised?
The city has already spent its $6 million allotment for the snow cleanup yet we complain of the dangerous unplowed streets and closed schools. The extravagantly new Sugar House casino recently announced its weekly slot numbers of $2.7 million are half of what was initially proposed and expected to this date.
TastyKake Baking Company is months away from bankruptcy and the newly located Please Touch Museum has revealed low memberships numbers and crippling debt payments. In addition, SEPTA is borrowing $175 million for a new fare system which will finally do away with our ancient dependency on tokens.
Yet despite these problems, we still see billboards on the freeway highlighting the lively growth and allure of the city. Instead of promoting the bourgeois restaurants of center city or the University of Pennsylvania’s phenomenal health system, we need to increase the city wage tax, the “sin” tax and find methods to redirect the disposable incomes lost in casinos and usher them towards local businesses. Find a way to offer tax breaks to small business which employ local residents and publicly advertise the 10 year tax home credit offered in the city – keep the true believers here!
As a resident of the city for the last 26 years I can suggest a few ideas. We need to greatly improve our school system over the next five years. Just recently Southern High School in South Philadelphia, which has been linked to racially motivated aggressions, has renamed itself a Renaissance School. Although 18 new “Renaissance” schools have changed their names, most often the administration and shoddy principles do not change. Invest more money into fledging teachers from the city and encourage more young adults to address the problems of higher education.
This city, among many other United States cities, cannot afford to cut its budget on social services and the Department of Human Services. Reports have surfaced that Philadelphia has the largest contingent of adolescent teen smokers in the country as well as having the poorest and most hungry Congressional district in the country. As a citizen, this infuriates me. How does a city with the fifth largest media market in the United States, fail to publicly address these concerns? We should all be demanding increased taxes and more transparent knowledge of the growth plans for the city.
Forget the $786 million campaign to build a larger convention center. What was wrong with the older version? I understand new, glossy and sexy sell, but in a city where these funds could have impacted more important concerns, why are residents excited about the imminent Philadelphia Auto Show? Haven’t people seen the reports that the construction and building of the convention center cost the city 400,000 nights of business between 2007 and 2009? Additionally the convention center will cost the city $35 million in operating costs in the fiscal year of 2011. Tsk, Tsk.
I want to see improvement in this town. Like Rocky Balboa – I stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the larger, stronger opponent. I will keep my head down and run at the wall, but there are only so many times that you can hit your head before you end up hurting yourself, and I believe that the larger impending cuts to the city budget in the next year are going to foster resentment, anger and vitriol unseen in this area in a long time. So whether you support the stagnation of taxes or simply don’t mind giving a few extra dollars a year to feed the 30 percent of Philadelphians who are hungry, either way, this city’s Brotherly Love is turning into Brotherly Apathy.
Social Work graduate student
University of Pennsylvania