Mayor Nutter ceremonially signed his first budget into law before City Council yesterday.

"This is a most historic moment for us," Nutter told Council members as he signed the bills with Council President Anna Verna at his side.

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"This is an improved budget from where we started back in February," he said.

The $4 billion plan has moved speedily through the approval process.

In recent weeks the mayor and Council have revised the budget and the city's five-year plan to increase spending and to slow planned tax cuts.

The revised budget adds $10 million in spending - recipients of the increase include the Recreation Department, the Core Philly Scholarship Program and the Art Museum - and less aggressive tax-cutting than originally planned.

The revised five-year plan will lower the wage tax to 3.6 percent for residents and 3.25 percent for nonresidents by 2013.

The wage tax stands at 4.2 percent for residents and 3.7 percent for nonresidents.

On the business side, the elimination of the much-hated gross-receipts portion of the business tax, based on sales rather than profits, will be stretched out over 10 years.

And the net-income portion of the tax will be reduced from the current 6.5 percent to 6.25 percent by 2013.

The only budget item that has drawn much criticism from the public was the change to a tax cut for the working poor.

The administration had originally wanted to kill the cut, championed by the late Councilman David Cohen. Instead, it is now delaying the start date from 2013 to 2014.

Yesterday a small group of advocates for the cut gathered at the Council session with signs.

"How in a time of mortgage crisis can we deny low-wage workers this additional bit of help?" asked Stan Shapiro, a member of One Philadelphia, which also opposes business-tax cuts as a tool to boost the economy.

Nutter said supporters of the Cohen tax cut should be glad that "there is the commitment to have it implemented." *