Mayor Nutter took shots Thursday at the people hoping to become his successor, suggesting the candidates' plans to fund the Philadelphia School District were "bogus."
"You cannot run around this school, shake hands with students, take pictures, read to second graders, talk to middle schoolers, inspire high school students, and then when you're back at your office comfortably not put forward the money that they need to educate their students," Nutter said at an event at Kensington Health Sciences Academy with Gov. Wolf. "Let's cut the phoniness. Let's be serious about educating kids."
School Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. has asked the city for $103 million in new recurring funds to begin to implement his academic plan after several years of brutal cuts, and Nutter has proposed a property-tax increase that would give the district $105 million.
All six of the Democratic candidates - all of whom have declared that education would be a priority in their administration - have said they want more money for the schools, but do not support the tax increase.
Some of the candidates have laid out specifics for how they would produce cash for schools.
Former Councilman James F. Kenney, for instance, has said he would raise $105 million without help in Harrisburg, in part through selling marketable commercial tax liens.
Former Judge Nelson A. Diaz said he would exceed the superintendent's request using measures including expanding bar hours and increasing the liquor tax in Center City.
State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams has identified ways to raise $200 million for schools, in part by asking the Philadelphia School Partnership for $50 million.
But Nutter indicated those plans were "nonsense," and that none of the candidates had proposed concrete, achievable, annually recurring plans to come up with the cash Hite needs beginning in September.
Nutter and Hite joined Wolf on Thursday at a neighborhood high school where graduation rates are rising, due in part to a renewed emphasis on both career and technical education and college preparation. The school has benefitted from community partnerships and grants to bolster its programs that prepare students for careers in the medical field.
"I was really impressed," the governor said of the school.
Wolf has been touring schools around the state to tout his budget proposal. He wants to pump millions into public schools around the state, including $159 million in new money for Philadelphia schools.
At Kensington Health Sciences, the governor toured a brand-new lab where students are preparing for careers in the dental field, chatted up teenagers reading the novel Orphan Train, and shook hands in the cafeteria. He said students across the city and state deserved the opportunities available at the school.
"I know you can't throw money at any problem and hope to get an answer, but you can't keep taking money away," Wolf said. "They need the resources here that they need across City Line."
That the governor prioritized a visit to a Philadelphia public school so early in his tenure was not lost on Nutter and Hite. Gov. Tom Corbett did not visit any district schools during his tenure, officials said.
"Your very presence sends a very, very different message than what's been communicated over the past four years," Nutter said. "To have a governor on the ground in a school in a neighborhood is a very, very powerful message."
Hite said the mayor's and governor's budget proposals were crucial to continued improvement in city schools.
"We have to get out of this ugly cycle of, 'What do we have to do without?' " said Hite.
The superintendent has directed principals to prepare their 2015-16 budgets using the same level of resources they have this year, but has also asked them for a wish list of what they would add if Nutter's and Wolf's proposals are passed.
Hite said principals are telling him they would add back things like guidance counselors, nurses, Advanced Placement courses, and career-training programs.
Asked what he thought the chances were of his budget passing in a Republican-controlled legislature, Wolf said he believed lawmakers would remember the messages delivered in November's election, when education, not jobs or the economy, was the hallmark issue.
"People in Pennsylvania," Wolf said, "want to invest in education."