HARRISBURG – No sooner had they been sworn in last month, Republicans in the Senate began pushing bills to kill Philadelphia's new effort to narrow the pay gap between men and women, withhold hundreds of millions in state dollars over its sanctuary city status and abolish its groundbreaking sick-leave law.

Similar bills are expected to soon be introduced in the House.

The Republicans insist their agenda is not an attack on Philadelphia or any other urban area. They note the GOP-controlled legislature sends hundreds of millions of state dollars to Philadelphia every year, and has come through for the city every time it comes knocking on Capitol doors for approval to raise taxes.

But their emphasis right out of the gate on voiding some of the city's most progressive policies has raised the specter of a rise in anti-Philadelphia sentiment in the Capitol, one that could lead to a clash between the overwhelmingly Democratic city's liberal sensibility and the legislature's biggest modern-day conservative majorities.

"I'm very concerned," Philadelphia City Council president Darrell Clarke said in an interview last week. "I can't tell if this is based on politics, if it's based on policy or if it's based on concerns about state aid or if it's based on special-interest lobbying. But at the end of the day, it's problematic."

Political veterans say the Capitol's suspicion of all things Philly is not new. But as the legislature has trended more conservative in the last few elections, and as Philadelphia's delegation has lost leadership seats and clout, pushback against the city has become more barefaced.

Some lawmakers question whether the amount of money the city receives for schools and other services has made a dent in what seem like chronic financial problems. Others scoff at the city's efforts to unilaterally push laws and policies, from gun control to smoking bans, that go beyond state and federal law.

Steve Miskin, spokesman for House Republicans, summed up the mentality among some this way: "They see this huge chunk of money going there, but they see it as going down a rat hole. And you read about dollars being wasted and abused, you see money being stolen, and in many ways, they don't see a difference. They believe a fraction of that in their communities could make a monstrous difference."

To be sure, the city gets a fair chunk of state dollars. In the 2015-16 fiscal year, it received nearly $650 million in grants and other aid for transportation, human services and other programs, according to a Senate fiscal analysis. It is to receive more than $1 billion in this fiscal year for school operations and classroom instruction.

But Philadelphia also gives back: The city and its suburbs kicked in nearly 30 percent of state income, sales and other taxes collected in 2015, according to the Wolf administration's budget office.

Still, the bills involving the city that are moving through the legislature now are as much about money as they are about ideology.

Of the eight bills the Senate has passed since kicking off its new legislative session last month, two have far-reaching implications for the city.

The first is a GOP-sponsored measure that seeks to expand wage equity protections for women. But tucked into that bill was language that would preempt Philadelphia's month-old law banning employers from asking job applicants for their salary history. The law has been met with fierce resistance within the city's business community, but City Council and Mayor Kenney have touted it as a way to help close the gender wage gap.

The second is legislation that would cut off $1.3 billion in state subsidies to so-called sanctuary municipalities such as Philadelphia that do not always honor detention requests from federal immigration authorities. The bill itself does not specify which communities would be penalized, but Philadelphia's elected officials, including Kenney, have been the most vocal about the need to preserve the city's sanctuary status.

The Senate is also pushing a bill that would void Philadelphia's two-year-old law requiring employers with more than 10 employees to provide, among other things, at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. The chamber passed a similar bill in its last two-year session, but it died in the House.

Asked about the bills last week, Kenney quipped: "I mistakenly thought we had
Home Rule here, but apparently there's a difference of opinion."

How many of those measures actually make it to Gov. Wolf's desk remains a question mark. Also unknown: whether Wolf, a Democrat up for reelection next year, would strike them down with a veto. So far, the administration has said only that it has concerns about some of the legislation.

In an interview, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre) said the bills are not meant to single out or hurt Philadelphia, but instead set uniform, statewide ground rules on critical issues.

He acknowledged that there can be rivalry between rural and urban legislators, but said: "The success of Philadelphia is key to the success of Pennsylvania. We want to be as helpful as possible."

Still, it will be difficult for the city's delegation, almost exclusively Democrats, to block the measures. Not only are Democrats as a whole in the minority in both legislative chambers, but Philadelphia's delegation lacks the clout it once did.

In the 2000s, Philadelphians held the governor's office, the House speakership and key roles on both chambers' powerful Appropriations committees. These days, top leadership posts are dominated by legislators from more conservative central, western and northwestern parts of the state that have little in common with the southeast.

And then there's the Trump factor.

Politically, the region got a piece of humble pie when President Trump won the state in last November's election despite a huge margin of victory for Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia and its suburbs - which for decades had been seen as sufficient to carry the state. At the same time, Republicans picked up even more seats in the state legislature.

"Some people were emboldened by that," said political scientist and pollster G. Terry Madonna. "What we're seeing is a much greater degree of polarization between rural and urban Pennsylvania. And Philadelphia quintessentially represents liberal Pennsylvania."

Sen. Vincent Hughes (D., Philadelphia) acknowledges that the city has had to fight stereotypes of being needy, broke and corrupt. (A half-dozen state legislators from Philadelphia have been convicted of corruption in the past three years.) Like Madonna, Hughes, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, views it as a symptom of an increasingly divisive rural vs. urban sentiment.

The sentiment, he argued, is hypocritical. To those who complain that Philadelphia is a drain on public funds, Hughes counters that the city and surrounding counties are a critical economic driver for Pennsylvania, as well as an academic, cultural and technological leader.

"They want to deny the funding and support that is needed, and deny the city's ability to make decisions about its future," said Hughes. "On the other hand, they want to send their family members there to suck off the cultural, academic and economic teat that the city provides. That is hypocrisy."

 Staff writer Claudia Vargas contributed to this article.