BillGreen's blog

Philly Property Taxes

Dave Davies wrote this excellent piece on a tax estimator I prepared.

My comment to it as follows: Transparency & PA Constitution — Bill Green 2012-05-21 22:57
In addition to Dave's much better summary than my own I would add the following. The public should have enough knowledge about what the administration proposes to form an opinion. They really had no data without the spreadsheet. I don't predict what people will think about the data. It may well be that knowing the best and worst case people want AVI. I would argue putting bounds on it may be helpful although I am not making a judgement about whether or not it will be. Openness and transparency and adequate time for active citizen engagement should be our touchstone for anything this important. It was missing.

Also, we are the only major city in the country to not have the ability to tax residential properties at a different rate from commercial and industrial properties due to the uniformity clause of the PA constitution. The use and occupancy tax is the work around. It does not make us less competitive. The business taxes we have, especially the 6.5% net income tax DESTROY JOBS.

Finally, if the numbers I have are wrong, I will change my conclusion. I make decisions on data and evidence. If the data is different, my conclusion will be. I am being asked to act, I am assessing the data I have, I wish I had more data.

To see the release and estimator go to

Let's responsibly help the School District

During the last few months, the School District has been trying to close a staggering deficit. The Mayor has proposed two different tax increases to help the district--taxes that go directly to the district. The district is requesting $102M. This is roughly the same amount requested in City Council prior to resolution of the full day kindergarten and transpass issues. The administration proposes giving them $66M. It is $66M then that we need to solve for.

I am opposed to taxes that directly go into the Districts coffers (which is the current proposal). The only real accountability we will have over the District is putting money on the City side, not the district side, of the wall and tossing it over only after they have agreed with our priorities. The administration's plan does not do this.

Last week, an Education Accountability Agreement was signed between the City, District, and Commonwealth. It is nice but mostly theatre. Council has been pressing for greater accountability for the past many weeks, including at the District's May 24th budget hearing, in letters to Philadelphia's state legislators, etc. In fact, Councilman Clarke has proposed a mechanism to provide more funding to the District only if additional accountability measures were in place (Councilman Clarke made this proposal a week before the Education Accountability Agreement was signed or shared with Council)--essentially creating an accountability fund.

Throughout Council's budget hearings and meetings with the District this spring, the focus has been on making sure that programs that generate concrete, successful outcomes for kids are preserved. We have focused our efforts and scarce resources on preserving the existing programs that are proven to work – not create or expand new programs. This was again a theme during Friday's day-long hearing, in which I, Councilman Kenney, Councilwoman Sanchez, and others pressed the District on, for example, why it proposed to fund 18 days of summer school at a cost of $23M rather than 180 days of reduced class sizes at a cost of $21M.

With respect to increasing funding to the District, there is a path forward that provides the District with the additional $66M requested by the City last Friday without raising taxes.

• On the city side, the Administration can generate $6M through increased on-street parking rates; $10M through reductions identified during budget hearings that will not impact services; and $30M through reducing the year-end fund balance, which is proposed to be $50M (by way of comparison, the fund balance levels in FY10-14 Five Year Plan approved by PICA were as follows: FY10 = $2.988M; FY11 = $10.960M; FY12 = $31.377M; FY13 = $10.633M; and FY14 = $79.797M) – a total of $46M.

• On the District side, additional savings are possible by: (1) limiting summer school to those students who need the credits to graduate or move on to the next grade (savings of $10M); (2) keeping Promise Academies at their current size rather than expanding them from 7 to 17 schools (savings of $19M) – again, in this period of limited resources, we should be focused on maintaining existing initiatives that we know work for kids (early childhood education, accelerated schools, etc.), not expanding new programs; and (3) trimming some of the remaining fat in operations/administration – for example, the proposed almost $500K increase in the budget of the Communications Office (we think the savings could sum to $10M) – a total of $39M.

Thus, by making hard but not impossible choices, and without raising taxes, we can put on the table $85M to fund priority items at the District -- such as yellow bus service, reduced class sizes, accelerated schools, early childhood education, school nurses, extended day programs, and arts and music being some of the top priorities, which collectively cost $84M.

The education advocates who appeared before Council last Friday, including PCCY, testified that they were agnostic about where the additional funding came from and were, instead, squarely focused on making sure sufficient funding and accountability measures were in place. Parents United testified that there should be no more resources without accountability (don't get me wrong, they want resources).

I stand ready and willing to help the District find the resources it needs to maintain the programs that are working for our children, but I believe we can do so in a manner that improves accountability and avoids taxing our citizens even more than they are already taxed or relying on revenue measures that are untested subject to legal challenge.

Tax Reform can grow our economy according to Moody's Mark Zandi

Check out this great piece on the tax proposal by Maria and I.

Short version, do it now!

Helping Philly Based Businesses, Creating and Retaining Philly Jobs

At the Philly for Change meet up on Wednesday I promised to post the power point on YPP regarding the business privilege tax changes proposed by Maria Q. Sanchez and myself. There were 15 co-sponsors total.

Key features are:

Large multinationals pay more as they can't legally avoid the gross receipts tax like they can the net income tax

50,000 of the 84,000 tax payers will be taken off our tax roles as a result of our exempting the first 100,000 of revenue

Philadelphia based firms benefit

See attached for detail.


Sunday Inquirer, Local Section, page B 11

Please review the page B 11 of the Inquirer for an advertisement placed by my father, former Mayor Bill Green. In it, he makes the case for Barack Obama. I believe it is a great perspective on the Democratic presidential primary. Check out this link k or attached pdf.

War on Poverty

In the 1950's Eisenhower justified massive federal expenditures on the interstate highway system as a national security issue. So troops could move around this Country quickly and efficiently in case of attack. The effect the highways have had on our economy and rapid growth of jobs is significant. While we do not need to justify federal expenditures like this today, the federal government is not making them or setting reach goals for our nation either. We used to have national and local leaders that set 10 year goals and government became devoted to accomplishing them. The most famous example a man in space. A modern example democrats are pushing, energy independence in 10 years.

Inside Politics

I am Bill Green. I am running in the Democratic primary for City Council At Large because the next four years will define the next generation in our City. The only thing that grows this City, long term, is jobs--good paying jobs with benefits. There is not a successful City in this country that does not have a growing and thriving middle class. Philadelphia loses its middle class because it fails to provide basic city services well. A City that does not educate the majority of our children, that can't keep its streets safe, that can't keep its streets clean or plowed, can not grow its middle class or attract good paying jobs with benefits. We must get back to basics and do the things we first formed governments to do--and we must do them well. People will not live in the high tax City and suffer poor services--that is why we are now the sixth largest City.

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