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Vote delayed on bill that would have reduced Philly schools funding

A proposal by Councilman Bobby Henon to give manufacturers a tax break and take money from schools upset education advocates.

Phila. City Councilman Bobby Henon
Phila. City Councilman Bobby HenonRead moreAKIRA SUWA / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

A CITY COUNCIL bill that threatened funding for the Philadelphia School District and angered education advocates will not be voted on today, its author said.

Councilman Bobby Henon's legislation, which would exclude manufacturers from paying the city's Use and Occupancy Tax, was scheduled for a final vote today after being held for more than a year. If passed, the legislation would have cut about $6 million annually from the beleaguered district, but Henon said last night that he would not call the bill up for a vote.

"The purpose of this is to let people know and let members know and let advocates know and let the city of Philadelphia know that manufacturing does matter, that I'm serious about trying to address concerns that we spent over a year researching," said Henon, who co-chaired a Council task force on manufacturing.

The councilman claimed the tax break would enable manufacturers to add more high-paying jobs in the city. And although the money would have been taken from the district, Henon's office said it would have been replaced by an increase in property taxes, basically offsetting the loss. Nonetheless, education advocates criticized the proposal.

"Giving tax breaks to manufacturing companies at the expense of our public schools is not a sound investment strategy," said Anthony Hopkins, a spokesman for Public Citizens for Children and Youth. "Likewise, tax breaks are not fully proven to create more jobs, but the evidence is quite clear that underfunding schools has disastrous effects on our children."

Henon said he plans to meet with district officials and school activists to discuss ways the city can support education while also aiding the rapidly growing manufacturing sector. He also vowed to push legislation on the issue next year.

"[It] may not look like the [bill] on the final calendar, but I will be back with a piece of legislation," he said.