Increasing Access To Public Transportation

For reasons that escape me, SEPTA discontinued its token system, which was affordable and convenient for people on tight budgets. SEPTA needs to devise a “Family Discount” card that would allow multiple people to ride on the same card for a lower cost. Most folks who use SEPTA have very modest annual incomes. Another option could be to establish a “Frequent Rider” bonus system in which riders accumulate bonus points that count towards discounted or even free rides when certain milestones are met. There has to be a concentrated effort by SEPTA to devise cheaper fare alternatives to encourage greater use of public transportation. An aggressive marketing campaign aimed at the target audiences also makes sense.

There are several approaches the city should be taking to expand job opportunities for citizens:

  • Expand Job Training programs, particularly in economically distressed communities.
  • Increase efforts to connect job seekers with professions that don’t require a four-year college degree, such as nurses, heavy equipment and tractor-trailer operators, bookkeepers, auto service technicians and mechanics, police officers and sheriffs, office supervisors and retail sales supervisors. City government should help connect these employers with residents of economically disadvantaged neighborhoods through social media, community job fairs, direct social worker intervention, traditional advertising and more.
  • Small businesses are the majority of the city’s business community. The city should create incentives for small businesses to recruit and hire people from the economically disadvantaged communities, whether it’s tax breaks, tax rebates, recognition of participation through the city’s own marketing streams and other methods.

We also need to acknowledge that secondary education is not ideal for every student and college is simply out of financial reach for many families. We need to place more emphasis on vocationaltechnical training opportunities for the city’s youth.

Fixing Disparities in Philadelphia’s Public Schools

Philadelphia’s public schools are being deprived of adequate state funding. It’s nowhere near a fair funding formula. We need to aggressively lobby our elected officials in Harrisburg to fix the flawed funding formula that is depriving our public school system of desperately needed funding. We, as city lawmakers, also need to be looking at ways to tighten the city’s fiscal belts and seek new revenue sources for our public schools.

Reducing the City Wage Tax

We need to work to lower the City Wage Tax because it remains the single biggest obstacle to attracting more businesses and people to the city. The modest, incremental cuts to the wage tax that the Kenney Administration has put in place are fine for now, but should be accelerated as the city’s financial outlook continues to improve. Lost revenue through reductions to the wage tax would be offset by an increased tax base as a result of new businesses and residents coming into the city.

Supporting Our Seniors

As the Chairman of the Committee on Aging, I have made the care and protection of our seniors one of my main priorities. Every month, I hold a town hall meeting to discuss senior-related issues and include guest speakers to discuss issues relevant to seniors. Each month, this town hall is held at the Kleinlife Community Center (10100 Jamison Ave). I also worked across the aisle to help expand the number of seniors covered by the Senior Citizen Low Income Tax Provisions.

Seniors are often targeted by scam artists. If you ever receive a phone call or email asking for personal information, money or a payment, it may be a SCAM. If this happens to you, please call my office, or the Attorney General’s Elderly Abuse Hotline (1-866-623-2137).

Supporting Our Men & Women in Uniform

I have worked across the aisle to secure additional funding for the Hero’s Award Fund, which provides moneto the surviving families of Philadelphia Police Officers, Firefighters, Paramedics and other First Responders who perish in Line of Duty Deaths. I successfully fought to increase the amount of the Hero’s Award Fund from $25,000 to $100,000. It’s a meaningful way to honor our men and women in uniform who made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting the citizens of Philadelphia and provide their families with a financial safety net.

Business Tax Reform

I’ve introduced and passed legislation to reform the tax structure for businesses in Philadelphia. Some of my reforms included exempting first year businesses from paying the estimated taxes altogether and allowing second year businesses to pay in a quarterly installment instead of one lump sum. Other legislation includes reforming the time period for net operating losses and allowing businesses to leverage bad economic times with good ones.

Reducing Government Regulations

I worked across the aisle with Council colleagues and the private sector to eliminate excess city regulations that no longer applied, easing government red tape and making it easier for business owners to operate in the city. I also authored or co-sponsored more than 15 bills that eliminated these unneeded regulations.

Real Estate Tax Loophole

My legislation closed a loophole used by big real estate firms to avoid millions of dollars in taxes owed to the city. This avoidance placed a larger burden on the individual taxpayer, which has now been eliminated.

Smart Fiscal Policy

I worked across the aisle to pass a bill to make sure the administration is reconciling the City’s accounts and knows where its money is. I also worked together with my colleagues to include in city reports the impact on jobs in the city a bill may produce.

Public Safety

I worked across the aisle to require all public libraries and recreation centers to publicly post their hours of operations, so that kids and families know when those resources are available.

Fought Against Taxes

I fought and voted against the Soda Tax, which places a heavy burden on the poorest of Philadelphians and forces our citizens to leave the city to make purchases. The tax has also hit businesses – from supermarkets to Mom and Pop corner grocers. This onerous tax negatively affects all of us. I also fought and voted against the Construction Tax, which would have placed an unnecessary burden on the burgeoning construction industry in our city.

Protecting Tenants

I’ve co-sponsored legislation that would offer protections for those who are scammed during a leasing process, and extend punishments to those who try to steal from renters in the city.