Quality of Living
Philadelphia today faces a crisis due to dramatic increases in crime. After years of decreasing crime rates in the early 2000s, we have seen a reversal starting in 2018, bringing a record year for homicides in the City of Philadelphia.
“Poor leadership in Philadelphia has resulted in a lesser quality of life for all Philadelphians. Murder rates and carjackings are at record highs. Illegal dirt bikes and ATVs terrorize our communities. It is time for law and order to return to The City of Brotherly Love.”
The current administration has engaged in a dubious social engineering experiment that statistics have proven wrong. Crimes at all levels have increased all over the City of Philadelphia. Retail theft has become commonplace. These crimes not only hurt businesses, but they can also lead to more serious violent crimes.
When in City Council, I will push to reverse course on regressive policies that are soft on crime. Crimes at all levels must be prosecuted in a manner where the punishment fits the crime. In addition, the Mayor and City Council must increase funding to the Philadelphia Police Department. Investment in the recruitment of new officers and community policing must be included in this increase.
“Philadelphia is one of the most taxed cities in the nation. The Soda Tax supports worthwhile programs, but it is just another tax that burdens citizens and businesses. Since all Philadelphians do not have the same means of mobility, the Soda Tax negatively impacts the underserved communities it is meant to help. The Soda Tax needs to be repealed and other means of revenue need to be found for universal pre-K and the Parks & Recreation Rebuild Program.”
I am opposed to the soda tax implemented in 2017. The soda tax hurts the communities that it is meant to serve. Underserved communities where residents have less mobility are more significantly impacted because of lack of means to travel to collar counties to shop for sweetened beverages to avoid the soda tax. Consequently, the benefits of this tax are borne on the backs of the underserved communities it purports to benefit. Since some communities do have the ability to travel out of the City of Philadelphia, standard tax revenue for both beverages and other groceries are forfeited when residents purchase these products outside of the City of Philadelphia.
The decrease in sales of sweetened beverages has also significantly hurt businesses within the City of Philadelphia. This is evident across the board in both small and medium size businesses. In West Philadelphia, the ShopRite, which sits close to the edge of the city at 67th Street and Haverford Avenue, experienced a 23 percent drop in overall sales after the soda tax went into effect. The store closed in 2019, less than two years after the tax was implemented.
Real Estate Tax
“Philadelphia must reform the real estate tax methodology to ensure fairness and to streamline the assessment process.”
Tax assessments in 2022 caused a tremendous tax liability to both residents and businesses, some seeing increases to their tax bill as high as almost 40%. While increasing value of a property can be a good thing, the tax bill that follows is not.
The huge increases in property value enabled the City of Philadelphia to raise tax revenue and costs to residents and businesses while claiming they are not raising taxes. However, this claim is only partially true. City Council and the Mayor can lower the millage rate so that increased assessments do not always result in an increased tax bill.
I propose the idea of lowering the millage rate at times when the increase in overall assessed values outpaces the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA). Correlating the millage rate with COLA will ensure that Philadelphia’s revenue keeps in line with inflation without overburdening residents and businesses.
The City of Philadelphia is the poorest of the largest cities in the nation. One of the reasons for this disturbing figure is the loss of job opportunities that are a direct result of the over taxation of businesses and residents. With rates of 3.79% (residents) and 3.44% (non-residents), Philadelphia taxes income more than collar counties such as Bucks, Delaware and Montgomery.
“Philadelphia must continue to reduce the wage tax to attract new businesses and help working families.”
Businesses that can easily relocate across City Line Avenue to a county with a lower wage tax that is more attractive to employees will continue to do so until the City of Philadelphia offers a rate that is more competitive. The pandemic has only increased the importance of a lower tax structure as employees and employers are more and more looking toward workplaces with a hybrid model.
I propose to lower the wage tax to 3.0% for residents and 2.8% to non-residents by 2030. The wage tax in Philadelphia accounts for almost 45% of the city’s budget. As a result, small decreases over time are paramount as to not drastically decrease revenue that will be needed for future budgets.
No Safe Injection Sites
There is no such thing as “safe” heroin usage. I am opposed to attempts by private organizations to make the City of Philadelphia the home of one of the first “safe” injection sites in the United States.
“Addiction is a disease and should be treated as such, but enabling those addicts with safe injection sites harms both the addicts and the surrounding community.”
Supporters of these injection sites espouse harm reduction when advocating for locations where addicts can “legally” and “safely” inject heroin. There is no evidence that safe injections sites do anything to help individuals break the cycle of addition. If the cycle is not broken, heroin will eventually destroy lives.
Addiction is a disease. Solutions and investment in individuals and communities suffering the ill effects of that disease are imperative. However, the normalization of drug use, the enabling of addicts and the harmful effects on surrounding communities that will result from safe injection sites are not the cure for the epidemic.
I endorse school choice so that the value of one’s education is not determined solely by their local school and zip code. School choice allows parents and students to decide if their local public school, charter school, parochial school or independent school is best for them.
“Philadelphia must continue to improve elementary and secondary education and promote diverse educational choices.”
School choice also promotes a healthy competition amongst schools so that they may bring forth their best efforts to attract students. In addition, we need to promote and champion the choice for children to attend a trade school in high school and beyond. Opportunities for Career and Technical Education (CTE) should be included in high schools for those students seeking to develop critical skills through a combination of classes and hands-on learning experiences in the trades. Offering a variety of career paths, including a career in the trades, will ensure that every child has an equal opportunity to a successful career path.
“Universal Pre-K is paramount to the development of young minds and Philadelphia must provide affordable Pre-K for all residents.”
It is paramount for Philadelphia to continue its Universal Pre-K program. Children must enter kindergarten on as even a playing field as possible. Universal Pre-K enables this by teaching children to read and write prior to kindergarten.
When children start elementary school reading and writing below grade level, it is often impossible to catch up and there is too much of a burden placed on teachers. If all children are taught to read and write prior to kindergarten, they will have the tools to thrive in elementary school, high school and beyond.