Mayor Michael Nutter today joined with Mayors C. Kim Bracey of York, Ed Pawlowski of Allentown and Vaughn D. Spencer of Allentown to call on Congress to ensure that new revenue sources are a part of any "fiscal cliff" agreement negotiated in Washington.
"It's clear to everyone you cannot just cut your way out of the level of debt and deficit this government is facing," Nutter said. He said that without adding new sources of government income, "cities, counties and school districts all across Pennsylvania and the country will, unfortunately, bear the brunt of the reductions."
Two laws set to change at the end of this year would end temporary Bush-era payroll tax reductions and enact cuts agreed on during the debt ceiling negotiations of 2011. The combination of higher taxes and reduced spending, if unchecked, could result in massive cuts to government services and a rise in people who need them.
Congress is currently debating how increase revenue and managing the federal deficit without plunging the nation into economic instability. Cities are particularly vulnerable to any impending downturn because they receive much of their income from property, sales and income taxes, which generally suffer during recessions, according to a report from Governing.
"In the city of Philadelphia, the cuts that are scheduled to take place in January would have a severely negative impact in a variety of areas," Nutter said, noting that public health, education and housing services would be hard hit. "This is the most important issue facing our nation and I hope Congress and the White House, in a balanced, bipartisan fashion, will come up with a plan that not only puts new revenues on the table, but does not severely negatively impact cities across the Commonwealth and country."
By the numbers
According to Nutter, if Congress does not act to avoid the "fiscal cliff":
Percent of Pennsylvania families who make $250,000 or less per year will see their taxes go up.
Could be added to the city's homeless problem because cuts to housing services will likely preclude more than 80 homeowners facing foreclosure from receiving counseling services.
Local teachers and classroom aides could lose their jobs due to education cuts.
Head Start slots for low-income students in the city could disappear due to cuts to that program.
In Defense Department grants to Philly will be in jeopardy.