Nutter Makes Last-Ditch Push For Increased Liquor Tax To Fund Schools

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Mayor Nutter is making a last-ditch effort to get City Council to go along with his plan to hike the liquor tax, as part of the city’s latest school district bailout.

City Council members on Wednesday are expected to give initial approval to the operating budget, and they’ve already approved a new cigarette tax. But they appear unlikely to move on a proposal to hike the liquor-by-the-drink tax from ten to fifteen percent.

Mayor Nutter is still pushing for it. “This week really primarily is the week of action, the week we need actions to be taken,” Nutter says.

Council President Darrell Clarke indicates that the lawmakers are likely to meet the District’s request simply through cigarette and increased revenue collection — not liquor.

“Council is on track to pass legislation that will ensure the $60 million number,” Clarke says.

But that doesn’t satisfy the mayor, who wants the liquor tax hike as well, saying, “The responsible thing to do is provide as much funding to invest in the education of children.”

Clarke believes Council is acting responsibly, and doesn’t appreciate the mayor’s public chiding,

“Council will manage its business internally.”

The mayor, though, isn’t throwing in the towel on his liquor tax proposal. “There’s a lot of time between Wednesday/Thursday,” he says.

Both the cigarette and liquor proposals also require approval of state lawmakers, and the prospects there remain unclear at best.

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