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

What Philly Should Watch for in Biden's Infrastructure Plan

Now that the American Rescue Plan has been passed, the Biden administration is intent on pivoting to a big infrastructure package to the tune of $2 trillion. On Wednesday, Biden lifted the embargo on the American Jobs Plan, which laid out some very ambitious goals for infrastructure that, if adopted, could have some major positive impacts for Philadelphia’s economy, its built environment, and even the local politics of transportation and housing. Continue reading

Early Voting Set to Begin Soon in PA

Everybody is still settling into the rhythms of Pennsylvania’s new election calendar, which was changed significantly because of the new vote-by-mail option, and one thing not everyone may have been expecting just yet is that it's already almost time for early voting! The vote-by-mail change came with a 50-day early voting window for mail voting that technically begins this coming Monday, March 29th. In practice, the ballots aren’t going to be ready to go by then because there are still some ballot challenges to resolve, and the Commissioners can’t arrange or print the ballots until all that’s settled.  Continue reading

How Fast Will Philly’s Budget Recover From COVID?

(Image: Controller's Office) Philadelphia’s budget deficit was substantially resolved by the American Rescue Plan’s provisions for state and local aid, but what is likely to happen to local revenues next year and the year after as that funding starts to dissipate? Continue reading

Philly's Housing Trust Fund to Receive 2nd-Largest-Ever Payment, Thanks to Mixed-Income Housing Program

(Image: Rendering of 2300 Market | Tantillo Architecture) The Housing Trust Fund is set to receive its second-largest single payment, of nearly $1 million, thanks to a 222-unit over-build development in the works at 23rd and Market St. To be able to build at a greater density than would otherwise be allowed, the builder is utilizing the city’s Mixed-Income Housing density bonus program, and will make a payment of $948,330 into the Housing Trust Fund.  Continue reading

Philly's New Voting Machines Can Finally Randomize Ballot Position. Let's End the 'Ballot Lottery' Once and For All

(Image: Sixty-Six Wards) Philadelphia’s judicial elections are a lot like a lottery system, where a candidate’s randomly-selected ballot position tends to be the most influential factor in the race. Sixty-Six Wards writer Jonathan Tannen, in a 2016 analysis for Econsult, found that candidates who draw the top left-most ballot position can triple their vote total as a result of their lucky draw.  Continue reading

What's In the American Rescue Plan for Philly?

(Joe Biden campaigning in Philadelphia) Congress has finally passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Act, a historic piece of legislation that will provide a massive amount of economic aid to households, businesses, and state and local governments, along with many other significant changes that everyone is still unpacking. An analysis by the Urban Institute estimates that the combined changes will reduce the number of people living in poverty in 2021 from 44 million to 28 million, and cut child poverty in half. Continue reading

Derek Green to Hold Hearings on a Land Value Tax Shift

(Image: Center for Property Tax Reform) Councilmember Derek Green introduced an interesting resolution this week to hold hearings on the idea of shifting Philadelphia’s property tax in the direction of land value taxation. Continue reading

The Mixed-Income Housing Bonus is Good, and City Council Should Let It Work

(This completely fine building is patient-zero for the end of the Mixed-Income Housing program in Graduate Hospital | Image: Gnome Architects) Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron’s recent columns on two different homes that were demolished in Graduate Hospital, to be replaced with new homes using the Mixed-Income Housing density bonus, appears to have prompted some legislative action this week, although perhaps not in the way she intended. Continue reading