Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sign Now: Coalition for Essential Services' petition for budget fairness

By Gwen Snyder

Those of y'all who closely follow Philadelphia Jobs with Justice and our work may already be familiar with Coalition for Essential Services (CES), the Philly-based group we've been partnering closely with since December.

A quick overview: CES grew out of the organizing efforts of folks riled up over Nutter's doomsday budget last year, in which he threatened to cut public services ranging from libraries to domestic abuse shelters. Thanks to the essential services advocates who formed CES, we kept a lot of libraries open, but we also suffered some pretty severe cutbacks to services--and to the jobs of the people that provided them. Public workers in this city have gone a year (and, for some of them, much longer than that) without a contract. And this year, it looks like other city service providers, like the parks and recreation department (recreation--you know, what we provide our youth with so they have something better to do than flash mobs?) are up on the City Hall butcher block.

Meanwhile, City Hall has been cutting taxes for all businesses--including notorious freeloaders like Verizon and Comcast--since 1996.

If we want to continue to be a livable city for our residents and our public sector workers, Philadelphia needs money now.

And once you get past the percentage signs and acronyms, what CES is proposing is pretty simple: reverse those tax breaks for big corporations. Exempt small businesses totally, even--but let's make sure that those Comcasts and Verizons are paying their fair share by changing gross receipts taxes.

City Council is starting to respond, and the press is starting to listen. Today in the Inquirer, CES members Stan Shapiro and Anthony Oliver discussed the gritty facts of CES's proposal. Meanwhile, over at Philly Weekly's PhillyNow blog, Aaron Kase wrote a little about the bill that CES has been pushing City Council members to introduce.

So what we're asking people to do is sign this petition insisting that City Hall continue to listen to our demands for a fair budget.

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