Bellevue Bulletin 03/28/2019: Philly Budget Hearings and Free College
Happy Friday! Welcome back to your weekly Bellevue Bulletin:
On Sunday, nearly 1,000 Philadelphians gathered at the Congregation Rodeph Shalom in Spring Garden for a “People’s Forum”. The largest City Council candidate event of this election cycle, according to Alliance for a Just Philadelphia and the MLK Dare coalition said. The purpose of the forum was for the citizens to hold Philadelphia’s 19 City Council at-large candidates accountable for how well they have lived up to the progressive policy agenda, named the People’s Platform. The candidates answered policy questions by raising papers that indicated either “Yes” or “No”, and then given one minute to elaborate on their response. People who attended said that they were glad to learn a little bit more about the candidate’s policies.
In Harrisburg, the word is that Pennsylvania is setting up a $15 million pilot program for the purposes of giving support services and housing help to state residents who are fighting opioid addiction. The federal grant, according to Governor Tom Wolf’s administration, aims to encourage treatment and recovery and reduce overdose deaths. As far as services, temporary rent assistance, food stamp applications, and linking people with recovery services are all on the table. 16 agencies will take the grant, based on their county’s rate of substance abuse and overdose-related deaths. The administration estimates that drug overdose deaths in Pennsylvania fell from about 5,600 in 2017 to about 4,300 last year, according to AP News.
On Wednesday, teachers, students, and lawmakers held a rally at the Capitol rotunda in support of new legislation that would aim to provide free college for PA students. The “Pa. Promise” plan would provide grants “of at least $1,000 per year for community college students for two years and a minimum of $2,500 per year for four years to Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Schools and state-related institutions,” according to the office of Sen. Vincent Hughes. Though it’s not yet clear who the state would have pay for this program, it’s a step in the right direction for a lot of PA students.
In Philadelphia, City Council has started hearings on Mayor Kenney’s proposed budget. Many of the Council members had the same concern – the streets. Streets Commissioner Carlton Williams says that their goal is to finish paving more quickly in the coming year, by giving contractors ten days, rather than three weeks, to complete a job. There was also a myriad of questions concerning the rising prices of taking care of PA residents in prison, even though the number of people behind bars has gone down. For the response on that and other questions posed, read here.
That’s all for this week! Follow us on Twitter @PhillyAdvocates for more!