Key Findings: First 30 Days (3/23 thru 4/22/09)
* More than 1,400 people took the Philadelphia Budget Challenge; 956 indicated living in the Greater Philadelphia region based on zip codes (where provided).
* 43% of those taking the challenge finished with a balanced budget or a surplus; 57% finished with a deficit.
* More than 80% chose to raise the Amusement Tax and more than 65% raised the Sales and Real Estate Taxes.
* More than 70% of users did not cut funding for the Police and Fire Departments.
Budget Challenge Background
The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia created the Philadelphia Budget Challenges as an online, interactive civic engagement tool to educate citizens about the city budget and to solicit their input concerning the choices facing Mayor Nutter and City Council in light of the significant budget deficit for fiscal year 2010. Participants had the opportunity to choose among options for increasing revenue and cutting spending with the goal of balancing the city budget.
Budget data were provided by the City of Philadelphia and other publicly available sources in February and March 2009. Each city department provided the details regarding the impact cuts would have on services and activities. We thank the Philadelphia Office of Budget and Program Evaluation and the Managing Director's Office for their cooperation and assistance. In addition, the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania and the Penn Project for Civic Engagement were key in the development of the Challenge's content. The Lenfest Foundation funded the Philadelphia Budget Challenge.
The Economy League launched the Challenge on March 23, 2009. It remains online; however, the data outlined in this report are from individuals who took the Challenge during the first 30 days (March 23 through April 22). Announcement of the Challenge went to the Economy League's approximately 4,000 member listserv and to the Penn Project for Civic Engagement's listserv and on social media outlets Facebook and Twitter. The Challenge was covered by local media including the City Paper, WHYY, KYW, and the Daily News as well as by blogs and websites regionally, nationally, and even internationally.