Profits Over Pupils: Philadelphia's True Priorities
2013 is gone and, as far as public educators in the City of Philadelphia are concerned, good riddance. The worst budget crisis the School District of Philadelphia has ever faced is now last year's news.
Honestly, however, who can blame the city or state for vastly underfunding the education of our youth? After all, this budget crisis is a result of the greatest recession our city and state have seen in over a generation. A brief look at how Philadelphia's publicly traded Fortune 500 corporations fared in 2013 shows the dire economic situation our city is in, resulting in a School District underfunded to the tune of $304 million.
- Cigna (NYSE:CI) climbed from $54 to $86 per share for an astronomical return on profits of nearly 58%.
- Crown Holdings (NYSE:CCK) rose 23% from $36 to $44 per share.
- Aramark (NYSE:ARMK) began trading publicly last month after its IPO and has already jumped an astounding 35% climbing from $20 to $26 per share.
- Sunoco Logistics (NYSE:SXL) saw its shares jump from approximately $50 to $75 for a 52-week change of +39%. [Sunoco, formerly the largest corporation based in Philadelphia (NYSE:SUN) is currently a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners (NYSE:ETP)]
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), currently the largest mass media and communications company in the world in terms of revenue and the namesake of the tallest building in Pennsylvania, saw its stock value rise 36% from $38 to $52. According to Comcast's most recent SEC filing, the corporation's trailing 12 month revenue stands at nearly $64 billion with a gross profit of $42.64 billion. Those 12 month trailing profits, again, stood at $42,640,000,000. I thought I'd add the zeroes there for dramatic effect. Oops, there's one $0 I forgot: the amount of property taxes that Comcast pays to the School District of Philadelphia - NONE. Comcast has cost the children of Philadelphia $28.8 million since 2008 by not paying its fair share of property taxes.
Why, these aren't the numbers one would expect at all from a city and state that continue to cry that there simply isn't enough tax revenue. In fact, as the School District of Philadelphia hobbled along on a bare-bones budget, Wall Street saw record revenues in 2013. The S&P had its best year since 1997 and the Dow Jones hasn't seen these types of gains since 1995!
David Cohen, by the way, is also the same person who recommended that Philadelphia public school teachers make the aforementioned 13% concessions in order to help solve the District's budget issues while he brokered a deal with Harrisburg. I suppose that, unlike PENN, he doesn't think we have the best public school teachers in Philadelphia -- nor should their salary "reflect that reality." What qualifies Cohen to make recommendations about Philadelphia's public schools? Well, apart from giving Gutmann a 43% raise and demanding teachers take a 13% paycut, here's what else he accomplished in 2013:
- As Vice President of Comcast, he cashed in an annual salary of $16.2 million (Pulling in that kind of money, I'm sure he's a public school parent with vested interest.)
- He held a $32,400 a plate dinner fundraising event for the Democratic Party at his Mt. Airy mansion. President Obama was in attendance as well, and why wouldn't he be? Cohen helped raise over $500,000 for Obama's re-election campaign back in 2012.
- He held a Republican fundraising event at that same Mt. Airy home to help kick-off Governor Corbett's re-election campaign. Who cares about political ideology when you have the money to pay off both sides?
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