City increases funding for police, Cuts essential services
By Larry Newbury, Montgomery County Healthcare Rights Committee
When the pandemic started, I was working two part-time jobs, one of which I no longer have due to the pandemic. The job I lost was a grant-based job I had with a local non-profit through the Philadelphia Office of Adult Education (OAE). As a result of the multi-month lockdown, the Philadelphia budget was drastically altered due to lack of tax revenues. One of the drastic alterations that Mayor Kenney made was the complete elimination of the Philadelphia OAE. The complete defunding of this service to the residents of Philadelphia was a devastating blow to the thousands of poor and immigrant communities hoping to make a better life for themselves.
If the Mayor was making cuts to the budget across the board, this action might have come with more understanding. But, if you have been paying attention to Philly politics, you are probably aware that there was controversy over the proposed increase in the police budget to the tune of fourteen million dollars. Only after much pressure from multiple fronts did the Mayor decide to redirect those funds. However, rather than direct those funds toward sorely needed social services, the Mayor decided to direct the funds in a manner that still funds the police, though it is through a backdoor method.
My job loss was a real blow and caused me personal distress. However, I still have my other part-time job, and thankfully my spouse is still fully employed. This experience has been incredibly eye-opening and transformative for me. Like many others, having my life downgraded as the result of a political decision has motivated me to be more engaged with political issues. If there is one positive outcome from my job loss, it is that it has reinvigorated my desire to continue to pursue work in social justice. I have come to an undoubting realization of our precarity in the U.S. system of political economy.