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Mayor Michael Nutter on Friday blamed the drastic move on the failure of the Pennsylvania legislature to act on his request for authorization to raise the city sales tax and change the formula for the city's contribution to its employee pension plan. Nutter says these items are necessary to help close a projected city budget deficit of $1.4 billion over the next five years.
The sixth-largest U.S. city by population will delay spending on anything other than payroll, debt service and emergencies, until passage in Harrisburg of a state budget and laws related to the sales-tax and pension proposals. Philadelphia's sales tax would increase by one percentage point to 8% for five years under the proposal.
"These steps come amid a growing cash crisis which must be addressed immediately," Nutter said at a press conference. He has attributed the city budget shortfall to broader economic weakness, which has eroded tax revenue, coupled with rising city pension obligations.