Bellevue Bulletin 03/06/2020
By Kristina D’Amico
Welcome back to another weekly update from Bellevue Strategies. First up on the docket this week, we’re talking about Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s new $5.2 billion budget, up 4.2% from the original budget for the current year. So, what’s all that going towards? Kenney is setting aside $45 million for the School District of Philadelphia, $18.3 million for the Community College of Philadelphia, and $10.5 million for street sweeping, which Kenney says will eventually come to every neighborhood. The budget plan calls for no tax rate increases, and only small cuts to wage and business tax rates. The new budget includes $211 million more in spending than last year’s original budget, as administration officials prepare for a possible economic downturn. Recently under Kenney’s direction, the city has also made its first-ever contributions to its rainy day fund, and set aside money for potential cuts in state and federal funding. To read more about the budget, click here.
Are Pennsylvania and its cities prepared for the newest strain of coronavirus, COVID-19? Philadelphia teachers say that schools definitely aren’t. The guidelines being issued by the city, state, and CDC are on-par with normal, flu-season advice: wash your hands with warm water and soap, avoid sneezing on anyone, and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects. But, the teachers of Philadelphia are especially worried about the practicality of that advice, as a national shortage of hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies begins, topped by an already cash-strapped district that struggles to provide adequate supplies for over 130,000 students, in 200-plus schools. (Via The Inquirer) Despite the district’s attempts to bring in more cleaning supplies and disinfectants, many teachers say that some school bathrooms don’t have reliably hot water, and in March, school-provided supplies are in short stock, causing teachers to have to buy extra cleaning supplies themselves – if they’re available on store shelves.
Nationwide, the U.S. House passed a multibillion-dollar spending package to combat the growing threat of COVID-19 in an attempt to help the state contain the virus and mitigate its possible effects. The bill allocates $8.3 billion towards fighting the virus, including more than $2.2 billion for the CDC’s support of federal, state, and local public health agencies; $3 billion for research and development; $1 billion in loan subsidies for small businesses and nearly $1 billion for medical supplies and community health centers. There are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, but neighboring New York has seen its first few cases, and New Jersey may be close behind. Pennsylvania has begun testing at a lab in Exton, which is good news – and the state expects that more facilities with testing capabilities will be up and running within a few weeks.
In City Council this week, Councilmember Domb introduced a resolution authorizing the Committee on Public Health and Human Services to hold hearings on the City of Philadelphia’s preparedness for the COVID-19 and its plans to respond to an outbreak. Councilmember Derek Green introduced a resolution calling upon the Trump Administration to uphold the collective bargaining rights of federal workers, and Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson introduced legislation proposing an amendment to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter Providing for the creation of the Office of the Victim Advocate and providing for the submission of the amendment to the electors of Philadephia.
That’s all for this week! Be sure to check out our latest PA Politics Podcast! Until next week.