How to Speed Up the Vote Count in November

Another week has gone by and the Philadelphia City Commissioners are still not finished counting the ballots from the June 2nd primary, with about 118,276 of the 161,000+ mail-in ballots counted so far as of Friday morning. Continue reading

Where Things Stand in the 2020 Primary

(Image: Sixty-Six Wards) Philadelphia’s 2020 primary will surely (hopefully) go down as the weirdest in our lifetime, with so many large and novel challenges for voters, candidates, and election administrators.Because most people voted by mail prior to Election Day on June 2nd, and because Governor Wolf allowed any ballots to count that were postmarked by June 2nd and received by June 9th, we won’t know until sometime next week how many people actually voted in the election. We know that 226,000 absentee ballots were requested by Philadelphia voters, over 90% of which were Democratic ballots, but we don’t yet know how many will be returned. So far, 157,152 ballots, or about 70%, have been returned, with more coming in every day. Continue reading

Controller Rebecca Rhynhart Releases Alternative Budget Plan with No Tax Increase

The City's deteriorating fiscal situation has led Mayor Kenney to toss out his administration’s earlier budget proposal and return with a much-reduced version that solves for a $649 million budget gap with a mix of budget cuts and tax increases. Continue reading

Newsletter: Three Winners and Four Losers in Mayor Kenney's Budget Revision

Mayor Kenney released a revised budget proposal last week to reflect the reality of cratering city revenues resulting from the pandemic response and associated business closings. The budget gap, currently sitting at around $650 million, is five times greater than the one the city faced during the Great Recession, and the administration will need to cut around $341 million from their prior spending plan that debuted in March. It’s possible that the cuts proposed could become less dramatic if more federal money comes in, or the administration takes advantage of the new Federal Reserve municipal bond buying program, but for now, this is the budget we’re debating, and it’s real ugly. Continue reading

Planning Commission Tells RCOs to Start Getting Ready for Online Meetings

(No room for social distancing in the ZBA chambers) Philadelphia city government embeds public engagement requirements into a lot of its official processes, and one of the big question marks of the COVID-19 era is to what extent the City will allow itself to continue to do the public’s business given the inability to hold in-person public meetings, and what best practices will emerge for virtual civic engagement. Continue reading

Home Rule Episode 3: What COVID-19 Could Mean for PA Elections

PA lawmakers have taken some steps to shore up the election during the COVID-19 shutdown, but there’s still more to do. In our third episode of Home Rule, we talk to Rep. Kevin Boyle and local election attorney Adam Bonin about the pandemic’s implications for voting, PA’s new vote-by-mail program, the party conventions, and more.  Continue reading

Southeast PA and Allegheny Officials Call for an All-Mail Election

Local elected officials from some of Pennsylvania’s most populous counties are urging the state to consider an all-mail primary election on June 2nd. Continue reading

State Coronavirus Response Takes a Partisan Turn

State elected officials so far have seemed to be working collaboratively enough across party lines on the coronavirus response, but it’s still an election year with divided government and real competition for control of the state legislature, so the urge to draw contrasts between the parties will only intensify. Continue reading

Mayor Kenney to Scrap Proposed Budget, Start Over

The coronavirus crisis has pushed City emergency spending up, and the resulting business closures necessitated by social distancing have sent tax revenues plummeting, leading the Kenney administration to announce they’re scrapping their proposed $5.2 billion budget and starting over. They plan to release a new budget before May 1st, and officials aren’t dancing around the fact that there could be some harsh cuts involved, according to Michael D’Onofrio of the Tribune. Continue reading

Rep. Madeleine Dean Wants More, and Automatic, Cash Payments

The federal CARES Act substantially expanded unemployment insurance and will also send direct payments of around $1,200 to most Americans, but many economists seem to agree that the package was nowhere near large enough to offset the enormous demand shock to the economy. And some are warning that—absent a more robust response from Congress and the Fed—a quarter to one-third of Americans could be thrown out of work within a few months. Already in Pennsylvania, there have been over 1.1 million UI claims—about 16% of the workforce. Continue reading