PHILADELPHIA—Pennsylvania legislators reached an important milestone this week when Governor Tom Wolf (D) signed a bipartisan bill extending for 25 years the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA)—a state agency created in 1992 to oversee Philadelphia’s finances in response to a fiscal crisis that left the city unable to borrow money. The bill’s main sponsor was Representative Martina White (R-Philadelphia).
PICA’s oversight has led to nearly three decades of financial stability for the city, as confirmed by research from The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Philadelphia research and policy initiative. Under the original enabling legislation, PICA was due to disband in 2023.
Philadelphia research and policy initiative Director Elinor Haider issued the following statement on the 25-year extension:
“With passage of this legislation, the Commonwealth took a great step forward in ensuring Philadelphia’s fiscal stability for another generation. Over the past 30 years, PICA has helped the city establish and maintain fiscal stability and credibility, served as an enhancement to general obligation debt, and been a key stabilizing force during periods of fiscal turbulence. As the city focuses on achieving an equitable recovery from the pandemic, PICA will continue to play a critical role in ensuring ongoing fiscal stability and long-term planning. We commend the General Assembly and Governor Wolf for achieving this important milestone.”
The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems.
Pew Publications on PICA
To encourage and inform a conversation about the future of PICA and fiscal governance in Philadelphia, Pew conducted research and hosted conversations with policymakers and other key stakeholders—resulting in the following publications:
- The Future of Fiscal Oversight in Philadelphia (January 2020): Provides an overview of PICA’s creation, structure, and powers; analyzes how the city has performed under PICA oversight; and outlines options for the future.
- What’s Next for Fiscal Oversight in Philadelphia? (February 2020): A summary of a convening hosted by Pew in January 2020 of policymakers and other stakeholders— including those who have worked for PICA, served on its board, or dealt with it as city officials—to discuss PICA, its impact on the city, and options for moving forward. At the convening, former Mayor Michael Nutter called PICA “the most significant fiscal disciplinary tool ever enacted in the city.”
- How Philadelphia and Other Cities Work to Achieve Fiscal Stability (November 2020): Focuses on two key aspects of PICA—long-term planning and regular budget reporting— by examining practices in the 30 largest U.S. cities plus Pittsburgh. Although not all cities do long-term planning or budget monitoring, those that have a history of fiscal oversight do one or both. Of the 18 cities that release long-term financial plans, Philadelphia’s plan is among the most comprehensive.