Max Simpson June 29, 2020

The Philadelphia City Council is making serious adjustments to their Fiscal Year 2021 Budget, highlighted by a $33 million reduction in police spending. These swift changes come as the city reckons with the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing racial strife.

The proposed cut to the Police Department will be largely redirected to the Managing Director’s Office (MDO), a cabinet-level office responsible for oversight in the city. The MDO is set to receive $12.3 million from crossing guard funding, $1.9 million from public safety enforcement, and $400,000 devoted to a Police Oversight Commission. An additional $1.2 million will be appropriated to the Public Defender. 

The Council also approved the New Normal Budget Act, a $25 million allotment dedicated to healthcare needs, affordable housing, and job training. Other significant investments include $20 million to the Housing Trust Fund, $1.45 million for Adult Education, $1.35 million for Arts and Culture, and $825,000 for Re-Entry Services.

To generate additional revenue, the city has also added a 2.5 percent increase on their parking tax, along with non-resident wage and net profit taxes. The Fire Department will be held to its Fiscal Year 2020 level of spending, which the council estimates will save $5 million. 

As the pandemic continues to cause recession amidst racial unrest, other major U.S. metropolitan cities including Baltimore have approved significant cuts to their police departments. Philadelphia faces a projected $750 million budget gap, but mayor Jim Kenney remains optimistic that the city will fulfill their constitutional obligation to balance their Fiscal Year 2021 budget by June 30. 

About the Author

Max Simpson is a Political Science Major enrolled in the University of Georgia Honors College. He is currently pursuing his Master of Public Administration and Policy and will graduate in 2022. Max has previously conducted research in Social Security Disability Appeals and worked abroad for an Israeli nonprofit. His interests are focused on state and federal government.