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Praise for Gov. Wolf’s Lead and Asbestos Proposals

February 03, 2020

Advocacy Groups and legislators praised Governor Tom Wolf for his series of proposed 2020-21 budget items that would target lead and asbestos in schools, day cares, homes and public water systems. Combined, the five budget items will make available more than $1.1 billion in funding to remediate and remove lead and asbestos.

“We have known for decades the danger posed by lead and asbestos,” said Gov. Wolf. “It’s past time to eliminate these toxins. My budget proposal will prevent Pennsylvanians from continuing to be exposed, making Pennsylvania a safer and healthier place to live, learn and work.”

Thomas Parker, Superintendent, Allentown School District
“Allentown School District applauds Gov. Wolf’s efforts to create a safer school environment for all students. Allentown, like many school districts in the Commonwealth, have buildings that are over 100 years old, and also have significant fiscal constraints. Without this support, we will continue to have limited ability to address critically needed facility concerns.”

Missy McTiernan, Superintendent, Scranton School District
“The Scranton School District was pleased to be represented at Governor Wolf’s press conference today regarding his plan to help support remediation of lead and asbestos in Pennsylvania schools. This proposal for financial support comes at a crucial time for the Scranton School District. The Scranton community thanks Governor Wolf for his continued support of public education.”

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
“We applaud @GovernorTomWolf on his plan to protect PA’s children and families from the environmental hazards of lead and asbestos that continue to exist in our schools and other community sites.”

Dr. Jeffrey Martin, Chairman, Partnership for Public Health
“Lead poisoning hurts hundreds of children in Lancaster County each year. Gov. Wolf’s budget proposal will actually save the state money in the long run by helping to eliminate this toxin and reducing the services that lead-impaired children need for the rest of their lives.”

Perry Meadows, Medical Director of Government Programs, Geisinger Health Plan
“I greatly appreciate and support Governor Wolf’s efforts to combat lead and asbestos in the Commonwealth. As a family physician, I have seen firsthand the effects of lead and asbestos on children, adults, and their families. The efforts to eradicate these toxic products from the schools is a start, but I am also happy to see the efforts include the home and water system. A comprehensive program, as outlined by Governor Wolf, will improve the health and quality of life of everyone in the Commonwealth.”

Joyce A. Ravinskas, Program Manager, UPMC Pinnacle Lead Poisoning & Education Program
“As a Registered Nurse, Healthy Home Specialist, PA Licensed Lead Risk Assessor, Lead Poisoning Prevention and Education Program (LPPEP) Director, and Lead and Healthy Homes Manager for UPMC Pinnacle for almost 20 years, I see the emotional and financial toll so many low- income, and even mid-income residents have suffered from unknowingly living among toxic lead and asbestos. As is well documented, elevated lead levels negatively affect a child’s mental developmental, emotional, physical and intellectual development.

“I fully support the efforts of Governor Tom Wolf, Senator Vincent Hughes, Rep. Jason Dawkins, as well as numerous other legislators and advocates in support of these budget proposals as they seek external funding to support a program designed to significantly improve the quality of our schools, daycares, and homes.”

Sen. Sharif Street
“One step closer!! Proud to stand with Governor Tom Wolf and @SenatorHughes to announce a $1.2 billion commitment to clean up toxic schools and remediate lead and asbestos in Philly and across the Commonwealth! Secure the bag. #fundourfacilities #toxicschools”

Rep. Marty Flynn
“Thank you, Governor Wolf – for your foresight and insight regarding the needs of our constituents, the needs of our children, their families and our teachers and staff. The remediation program that you are outlining for our schools could not be more timely for the Scranton Area.”

Rep. Angel Cruz
“I am grateful that Governor Wolf is making lead abatement in our schools a priority. But the fact remains that lead poses a risk to people outside of school buildings. Lead endangers many people in their own homes, as infrastructure in places like Philadelphia County, where more than 70% of the housing stock was built before 1960, likely contains lead paint, and lead levels in some municipal drinking water poses a risk to the public.”

Jim Kenney, Mayor, City of Philadelphia
“These investments can no longer wait, and I sincerely appreciate Gov. Wolf’s leadership on this critical issue. He’s clearly heard and responded to our urgent call for more state support.

“These investments are necessary to ensure kids across the Commonwealth have the safe, quality learning environments they deserve. Look forward to working with @GovernorTomWolf, the state legislature, and stakeholders to address this critical issue. #PHLed”

Larry Krasner, District Attorney, Philadelphia
“This is a hugely important & necessary investment in our kids – and the safe and strong communities every Philadelphian deserves.”

Rich Askey, President, Pennsylvania State Education Association
“PSEA believes that every student and every educator should be able to learn and work in a safe and healthy environment. We applaud Gov. Wolf for taking the lead on this issue and for his plan to remove lead and asbestos from Pennsylvania’s public schools.”

Arthur Steinberg, President, AFT of Pennsylvania
“Schools across the Commonwealth, urban, suburban, and rural, all face significant challenges as they relate to facilities’ needs. Lead and active, damaged asbestos are discovered near daily in school buildings from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia to Scranton.

“We are grateful to Governor Wolf for heeding our call for financial resources to address the facilities crisis, and we look forward to working with members of the Pennsylvania House and Senate to ensure that schools in need are top priority when Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) money is granted.”

Jerry Jordan, President, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers
“Today’s announcement by Governor Wolf is a long-awaited and important step forward in our fight for facilities investments. The PFT has led the charge in advocating for substantive action to comprehensively address the humanitarian crisis that our educators and the students they teach are enduring each day… The Governor’s proposal to open RCAP applications to lead and asbestos remediation to the tune of $1 billion has enormous potential. I am extremely encouraged that the Governor is taking our voices seriously and has developed a plan to bring relief.”

Edward Albert, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Association for Rural and Small Schools
“I want to thank Governor Wolf for his strong leadership on this issue, and for his bold proposal to address toxic contaminants in schools and child-care centers across Pennsylvania. As the Executive Director of PARSS, I know all too well that it is not only schools in urban centers that face these issues. Lead and asbestos contamination knows no zip code, and doesn’t discriminate based on location, class size, or demographic of children affected. Older facilities and infrastructure are now facing serious contamination issues, and our children and teachers are bearing the brunt. We have been waiting for government to act to help schools in rural communities, and the Governor’s proposal to address this issue is exactly the kind of deliberate action we need. I encourage the legislature to act to implement this plan so that we can quickly get relief to schools across the Commonwealth.”

Deborah Gordon Klehr, Executive Director, Education Law Center
“We applaud Gov. Wolf’s proposal to provide up to $1 billion in grants for lead and asbestos remediation in schools. Many school districts across the state have aging facilities that are still plagued with these toxins and simply do not have adequate resources to address these critical health concerns that pose significant harm to students, parents, teachers, and staff.”

Donna Cooper, Executive Director, PCCY
“A billion dollars to stop childhood lead poisoning sounds like a lot of money. But given the devastating scale and scope of the problem, it’s not. We applaud the Governor for stepping forward in a big way and ending a discussion of the sorts of proposals that seek to incrementally chip away at a problem that permanently harms and thwarts the life chances of thousands of children in the Commonwealth. Finally, thanks to Governor Wolf, we are discussing a proposal aimed at ending childhood lead poisoning that is getting close to the scale needed to solve this problem.”

Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg, Staff Attorney, Public Interest Law Center
“We know why school buildings pose clear and present dangers to children and educators: decades of underfunding across Pennsylvania. And, as with any generations-long problem, it cannot be patched over. It can only be solved with sustained, statewide investment. We applaud Governor Wolf’s effort and urge the state legislature to support it.”

Patrick Dowd, Executive Director, Allies for Children
“By seeking $1.1 billion to comprehensively address childhood lead exposure in schools, homes, public water systems and child care facilities, Governor Wolf is working towards primary prevention of lead poisoning for all Pennsylvania children. We believe a convening of Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program grantees will set the stage for statewide collaboration and coordination, allowing jurisdictions to work collectively to tackle workforce challenges and other barriers to removing lead from homes. We applaud the Governor’s bold plan acknowledging both the critical urgency and large scale of this issue, as no child in the commonwealth is immune to the threat of lead exposure.”

Conservation Voters of PA
“We banned lead paint in 1978 because we knew it was poisoning kids. Even with that knowledge, this state did little to protect our children for 42 years. Governor Wolf’s investment will start to put those decades of injustice behind us and safeguard the next generation from the danger of lead poisoning.”

David Masur, Director, PennEnvironment
“Schools are places where our kids go to learn, become productive members of society, and build life-long friendships. Not places where the health of our kids may be put at risk from contaminants that cause cancer and learning disorders,” stated PennEnvironment Director David Masur. “We applaud Gov. Wolf for putting a bright spotlight on the issue of environmental health risks in our schools and putting forth this set of packages to start addressing this problem.”

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