Councilmember Isaiah Thomas: How Budget Surplus is Used Among Top Priorities

Councilmember Thomas spoke to Hall Monitor about the upcoming fall council session, witness protection, and how to provide opportunities for children.

Councilmember-at-large Isaiah Thomas

“First and foremost, I’m going to be looking at the revenue we have as a city, and how those (surplus) dollars will be appropriated via transfer ordinances.”

“Witness protection is a huge issue in Philadelphia. When we talk about the crime that exists in this city, I think there are systemic problems like poverty and a lack of quality education that feeds into the crime problem.”

“As a person who really cares about and works with young people on a consistent basis, you know, I’m already thinking about next summer. So I would like to advocate now that we appropriated dollars that we need for next summer, we examine what happened with summer employment opportunities for high school students, because that was a debacle that took place this summer.”

“Considering all the issues that high school students are facing for us to fumble. Some of the things that we did as it relates to opportunities for high school students is an embarrassment.”

On the blowback the legislation has received from certain circles: It was “100% what I was expecting. Anytime you try to fight for the civil rights of black folks, you’re automatically going to see a lot of people who push back, because there are a lot of people who benefit both personally as well as financially on the suffering of poor people and people of color.”

“The data suggests that we’re moving in the right direction on Driving Equality, and we’re doing everything in our power to make sure that the data reflects the intention of the bill. If the day comes where the data suggests that the bill is doing more harm than good, then I’ll be the first one to introduce an amendment or look to appeal it. But right now, that’s not at all what the data is saying. We are excited and we’re optimistic about the direction that we’re moving in right now.”

00:00 Introduction
00:10 What are your top priorities for the fall?
03:10 What is the best use of the budget surplus?
05:21 Do you have a feel for what your colleagues will be working on this fall?
07:00 How does council begin to chip away at the 26% rate this fall?
09:23 How will the wage-tax and business tax cuts help Philadelphia?
13:20 What was the reaction to the Driving Equality bill?
15:35 Can council develop more activities for young people?
18:25 Can you walk us through your witness protection legislation?
21:10 What advice would you give to your mentees if they wanted to run for office?
24:11 What are the qualities you are looking for in the next mayor?

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