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Clarke Heads To Harrisburg To Push For School Funding

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(City Council president Darrell Clarke, shortly after his school funding plan was introduced.  Image from City of Phila. TV)

(City Council president Darrell Clarke, shortly after his school funding plan was introduced. Image from City of Phila. TV)

Mike Dunn Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn is City Hall bureau chief for KYW Newsradio 1060. He covers...
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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It’s off to Harrisburg today for City Council President Darrell Clarke, who plans some closed-door arm-twisting over the school funding crisis, and his own plan to shore up the city workers’ pension fund.

Council President Clarke wants to revise the state’s plan for city sales tax revenues so that over four years, the proceeds are split between the schools and the city pension fund. He and the mayor also want approval for a city tax on cigarettes. The state legislature must go along with the ideas, and Clarke says he will be in Harrisburg lobbying for that today.

“We will be traveling to Harrisburg to talk to members of the General Assembly, to get a temperature as to the likelihood of any support as it relates to enabling legislation (for sales tax and tobacco), and potentially other revenues for schools.”

Council is scheduled to adjourn on the 19th, and needs to approve a city budget by then. Clarke is not ruling out going beyond that date as council, the mayor and state lawmakers grapple with the school funding crisis.

“There could be some potential impact on the city budget if this whole school district issue doesn’t get resolved.  Just don’t know how that’s going to play out.”

Beyond the question of Clarke’s sales tax proposal, other measures are being considered to bring more local revenues to the district. One would boost the percentage of property tax revenues that goes to the school district. Another would potentially increase so-called “Use and Occupancy” tax.

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