He left City Council more than a year ago, but Democratic mayoral candidate Michael Nutter is still getting legislation introduced.
By proxy, of course.
When Council returns next week, Councilman Wilson Goode Jr. plans to introduce a prison re-entry bill authored by Nutter. The legislation awards $10,000 in tax credits to employers who hire ex-offenders, and provides support services and career training to ex- prisoners.
Nutter put forth the idea for the program - named the Philadelphia Re-Entry Employment Program or "PREP" - during the primary election campaign in May. Shortly after he won, he asked Goode if he would consider introducing the bill.
"This issue is so important that it should not have to wait for an election or someone to get elected," Nutter said.
Nutter said his re-entry program was a key part of his anti-violence strategy, because a job may stop an ex-con from returning to a life of crime.
"We have to establish a longer relationship with these people," he said. "The point of this bill is to try to [help] somebody from where they are today, incarcerated with no job prospects and very little prospect of getting a job."
This bill follows an existing tax-credit program created by Goode that offers $5,000 credits against the business-privilege tax for each new job created for an ex-offender.
Nutter's legislation offers a $10,000 credit for each new job for three years - so up to $30,000 credit per ex-offender. The program also aims to work closely with offenders to help them succeed.
Six months before release, all city residents in the Philadelphia Prisons System will be asked if they wish to join the program. If they do, they'll get help finding a job and housing upon release.
Under the rules of the tax credit, employers will have to provide up to $2,000 towards a general equivalency degree, Community College courses or vocational training.
In exchange, the ex-offenders must pay the city 5 percent of the wages earned during the three-year period.
The bill also states that any businesses with a city contract must identify job opportunities for ex-offenders.
"I think what Michael Nutter has proposed is a much more comprehensive approach that deals with the issue of education and training for ex-offenders," Goode said.
He said he has circulated the bill among his Council colleagues, and expects it to pass easily.
Zack Stalberg, chief executive of the watchdog group Committee of Seventy, praised Nutter's initiative on this issue.
"To me it appears to be a positive thing in that it's moving some of these ideas forward as quickly as possible," he said.
If Nutter is elected mayor, Goode said he expects more collaboration.
"Without a doubt," Goode said. "I look forward to it."*