September 19, 2018
Folks, Milton Street wants you to know that he’ll be back at Philadelphia’s City Hall on Thursday with a very important message.
Unlike 11 years ago, when he sang gospel songs while draped over a casket, he’ll be moving his press conference inside the stately building beneath a William Penn statue.
At 9:45 a.m., before the weekly City Council session, the former state politician, perennial candidate and widely known provocateur will again broach the subject of bringing video poker and bingo machines to Philadelphia in an effort to help fund the school district.
Apparently now convinced that he will, as a Republican, win the race in the 181st state House district in North and North Central Philadelphia over Democrat Malcolm Kenyatta, he has made this announcement via Facebook and email. (Since 1969, the district has been represented solely by Democrats including Street, himself, in 1979 and 1980.)
Street claims he is a man with a surefire way to get rid of the controversial soda tax and eliminate the schools deficit.
He's already taken his idea to Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner, but things didn't work out like he was hoping. ("Wagner wasn't serious about it," he shared.)
We will share a lightly edited version of his statement – in the form of a letter to Mayor Jim Kenney, who has many questions about the proposal – below:
Honorable Mayor Kenney,
I am a candidate for the State House of Representatives 181st District. I have in my possession a legislative proposal I plan to introduce in the House of Representatives in January 2019.
Under my proposed legislation we would put video poker and bingo machines in the airport, hostel lobbies, barber shops, beauty shops, bars, etc.
Preliminary financial projections show video bingo and poker machines would generate about $360 million annually, with all funds after expenses dedicated to the Philadelphia School District.
When the Legislative minority has its say, the majority has its way!!! Because I'll be sitting in a position of legislative strength – "The Majority" – step one will be to hold public hearings in January of 2019 in the city of Philadelphia to get testimony from the Mayor's Office, City Council, newly appointed School Board, the teacher’s union, home and school associations, faith-based community and parents.
Step two: Get expert testimony from the Commonwealth Gaming Commission.
If the information gathered from public hearings is favorable, it would be my responsibility to engineer the proposed legislation through the legislative process.
Given my experience as "MAJORITY" chairman of a Major Committee in the Pennsylvania State Senate, I'm confident I will get the job done.
Video poker and video bingo machines will generate enough money to:
(1) Eliminate the projected $700 million deficit in our school budget by year 2022
(2) Eliminate the need for a real estate tax increase.
(3) Eliminate the need for a beverage tax to fund pre-school.
I am requesting a letter of support from you, Honorable Mayor, and the Honorable Members of City Council, for this proposal.
Also, I am having a press conference on Thursday in City Hall outside of council chambers.
Please join me and bring a letter of support for "Video Poker and Bingo" to raise money for schools and any proposals you may have to financially support our School District eliminating the need for a real estate tax increase that I may be able to help you with in Harrisburg.
We must unite to keep real estate taxes down and, at the same time, financially support our newly-appointed School Board.
I remain Yours in Christ,
T. Milton Street Sr.
Kenney spokesman Mike Dunn weighed in on the proposal and invitation on Wednesday afternoon, and shade was thrown.
"The candidate may want to check in on what’s going on in Harrisburg," he said. "He would learn that the Commonwealth last year approved the placement of video gaming in airports and other facilities, with some of the revenue dedicated to education."
Despite that, Dunn said Kenney has "grave concerns about allowing additional gaming in portions of Philadelphia where residents struggle amid rampant poverty, and where gambling is a predatory practice."
" For almost 20 years, the Commonwealth has relied on gaming revenue to balance the state’s budget," he said. "The Mayor believes that an expansion of such predatory practices does not represent good governance, and is extremely detrimental to those who actually reside in the city."
So, it doesn't look like Milton, who at various points in his political career has been both a Democrat and Republican, will get that letter of support he's seeking on Thursday. And what does his 181st district foe make of it all?
"Republicans have for a long time made it perfectly clear that they have zero interest in effectively funding our schools," Kenyatta said. "It's going to be incumbent on of us paying attention to elect Democrats in November.
"If you care about the schools and the direction the body politic is going, whether you're independent, Republican or Democrat, elect Dems who will put forward bold ideas like fair funding to move our schools in a positive direction."