What Does Jim Kenney Want to Accomplish with Tax Reform?

(Mayor Jim Kenney) There are a couple of tax reform proposals in the mix in this year’s city budget debate, with a short window of opportunity presented by relatively flush city coffers for elected officials to make a smart investment in the city’s economic competitiveness.  Continue reading

Philly's Housing Shortage and the Problem of Low Vacancy Rates

(New homes under construction in East Kensington | Photo: Jon Geeting) The Philadelphia region is facing an historic housing shortage, with some of the lowest home inventory available in decades in both the city and the suburbs. There are many different reasons why this is the case, not least because the backdrop is a nationwide housing shortage of more than 2.5 million homes, but a big part of it is straightforward: we simply haven’t built enough homes. Continue reading

This Election Day, Let’s ‘Vote & Vax’ at Polling Places

(Photo: Timothy Rezendes via Creative Commons) It’s only been a few weeks since vaccine eligibility opened up for everybody 16 and older, but already health officials are sounding the alarm that demand for vaccination is plateauing, and there’s more work to be done to get traction among more reluctant residents.  Continue reading

City Council: Go All the Way with Sheriff Reform this Fall

(Image: Philadelphia Sheriff's Office) City Council, led by 9th District Councilmember Cherelle Parker, successfully brought political pressure to bear on the Sheriff’s office after a surprise announcement that Sheriff sales of tax-foreclosed properties would move entirely online. After a lengthy hearing and public denouncement by Parker and other Council members, the episode culminated in a court order postponing all Sheriff sales until this September. Continue reading

Pennsylvania Almost Lost Two Congressional Seats. Do Our Leaders Care?

The Census Bureau released its Congressional apportionment data this week, confirming the expected bad news that Pennsylvania will once again be losing Congressional representation following the latest Census.  The Commonwealth will lose one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, an outcome that had long been anticipated due to long-running geographic population shifts in the United States, but what’s gotten less attention since the announcement is the fact that we actually nearly lost two seats. Continue reading

'Home Rule' Episode 6: Food Fight! The Politics of Philly's Restaurant Recovery

  The hospitality industry, and particularly bars, restaurants, and live performances, have born the brunt of the job losses over the last year, and this is an important driver of the elevated unemployment rate, as the Pew ‘State of the City’ report shows. Continue reading

The Urban Exodus That Wasn't

Philadelphia’s upcoming budget debate involves more of a guessing game than usual, with several significant unknowns about the pace of public health recovery, the pace of economic recovery, the extent of the structural changes favoring remote work, residential population changes, and more.  Continue reading

Get Ready for Another Aimless Litter Task Force

Residents got some good news about street sweeping funding in Mayor Kenney’s budget proposal last week, but as has been the case with prior announcements about this topic, the classic next step is always for the Mayor to come out with some novel way of stalling or making concessions in the direction of parochialism. Continue reading

Mayor Kenney's Optimistic New Budget Plan

Mayor Kenney released his annual budget proposal Thursday, with a much more optimistic outlook for city services this year thanks to a major infusion of $1.4 billion in funding from the American Rescue Plan. Continue reading

Let's Make County Government a Thing in PA

Pennsylvania continues to underwhelm on vaccinations, ranking 27th out of the 50 states in the percentage of our population that’s been vaccinated. In response to some recent dust-ups between the state and local officials about the roll-out, Governor Tom Wolf told the Inquirer that “you kinda have to scratch your head” to see where things might be going wrong.  But those of us who follow local government policy in Pennsylvania are not scratching our heads. We know at least one of the reasons why things aren’t going better: the near-total lack of government capacity below the level of state government. Continue reading