The state is hoping to send $10 million in funds to help cover costs for the Democratic National Convention happening here in Philly in about three weeks — so long as the budget passes as is.
Lawmakers in Harrisburg are still locked in back-and-forth negotiations over the state budget, which remains a fragile situation. The Senate tweaked a spending plan sent to them by the House, and now the state is waiting for the House to re-approve it and for Gov. Tom Wolf to sign it.
Buried deep in the 2016-17 proposed budget that’s circulating now is a $10 million line item to the Department of Community and Economic Development titled “for regional event security and support.” Multiple sources have indicated that’s been set aside for the DNC. A representative from the Department of Community and Economic Development didn’t return a request for comment.
Jennifer Kocher, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, said the security allocation is similar to what lawmakers agreed to when Pope Francis visited Philadelphia last year. The 2015-16 budget included $10 million under the same line item designation.
It’s unclear exactly how that $10 million would be spent, but getting it in the budget wasn’t a partisan battle, as you might imagine. That’s because when the Republican National Convention was held in Philadelphia in 2000, Gov. Tom Ridge committed $7 million in cash to help fund the event and the security surrounding it. (However, in the 2000 budget, the line item was titled “National convention.”)
In 2000, Democrats voted in favor of the state’s contribution to the RNC. Now the state’s essentially adjusted that $7 million for inflation, set that amount aside to help fund security for the DNC and Republican leadership has agreed to not make a stink about it.
Of course, the Department helping to fund the DNC isn’t going to get that money before a budget passes. So DNC organizers, which have found themselves in a budgetary shortfall of their own (that Philadelphia taxpayers could be on the hook for) surely hope that spending plan passes as soon as possible.
Back in 2000, the majority of the RNC was paid for by taxpayers and contributions from the city and the state. It’s different this time around. Mayor Jim Kenney won’t throw $20 million in cash at the convention like the city did 15 years ago, and former Gov. Ed Rendell, who is heading up the DNC host committee, has partially blamed the financially ailing school district as a reason for why the city didn’t cough up the cash.
Wolf, a Democrat, said about a month after he took office that the state would provide some sort of funding for the DNC, but was mum on a dollar figure.
Most of the security for the DNC, taking place between July 25 and 28, will be paid for with federal grant money. The city was awarded $43 million in April to pay for things like police, fire, bomb squads and traffic safety personnel.