Voters in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania gave wide support Tuesday to a state constitutional amendment that would grant explicit rights to crime victims.
Certification of the so-called Marsy’s Law constitutional amendment vote was temporarily blocked by the state Supreme Court shortly before Election Day. Nevertheless, about three-quarters of voters both citywide and statewide had backed the measure as of late Tuesday night, with more than half of voting precincts reporting.
Philadelphia voters also approved two local ballot questions Tuesday, including one authorizing the city to borrow $185 million for infrastructure projects. With about half of voting precincts reporting, 75% of voters had approved borrowing the money for streets, parks, government buildings, transportation, and more. More than a quarter of the borrowing is intended for purposes related to public safety and justice.
The borrowing will add to the city’s $5 billion bond debt. The newly issued debt would be paid off over 20 years.
Philadelphia voters are familiar with bond questions: Almost the same language has been included on the ballot for more than two decades, and the questions typically pass with ease. Last November, voters approved a $181 million ask.
“If the city were not able to borrow on a fairly regular basis to invest in this infrastructure, that would be problematic,” said Pat Christmas, policy director at the local government watchdog group Committee of Seventy.
Philadelphians also voted by similar margins to amend the Home Rule Charter to raise the threshold amount to begin a formal bidding process on city contracts, from $34,000 to $75,000, and to $100,000 for local businesses. The intent is to make it easier for local businesses to compete for city work, said City Councilman Derek Green, who introduced the initiative.
Earlier this week, the state Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that the Marsy’s Law question was improper because the changes would have “immediate, profound, and in some instances, irreversible consequences on the constitutional rights of the accused.”