This Week in the Shapiro Administration: All Hands on Deck to Reopen I-95, Record Low Unemployment, Putting More Teachers in Classrooms, and More
June 16, 2023
The Shapiro Administration is leading an all hands on deck approach to reopen I-95, recorded Pennsylvania’s lowest ever unemployment rate, announced new grant funding to help paraeducators earn teaching certifications, gathered input on the Master Plan for Older Adults, and more.
Harrisburg, PA – This week, Governor Josh Shapiro and his Administration continued working around the clock to address the most pressing issues Pennsylvanians face, from the I-95 collapse in Philadelphia to improving Commonwealth services for older adults to supporting victims of gun violence.
After the I-95 collapse on Sunday, Governor Shapiro and Secretary of Transportation Mike Carroll led a coordinated response with state, local, and federal partners to immediately get to work and make progress ahead of schedule. Under the leadership of Secretary Carroll, demolition was completed ahead of schedule on Thursday, and crews continue to work 24/7 to rebuild the roadway.
In addition to the I-95 response, the Shapiro Administration announced steps the Commonwealth is taking to improve services for older Pennsylvanians, expand opportunities for practicing paraeducators in Pennsylvania schools to become special education teachers, expand opportunities for small minority, women and veteran-owned businesses, and more.
Read about the Shapiro Administration’s work across Pennsylvania this week to deliver results:
All Hands On Deck: Shapiro Administration, PennDOT, Local, and Federal Partners Work Together to Reopen I-95 Safely and Efficiently
- The Shapiro Administration immediately responded with an all hands on deck approach to the I-95 collapse. Governor Shapiro signed a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency, making $7 million of state funds immediately available for the reconstruction of the roadway and authorizing the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Transportation, and the Pennsylvania State Police to immediately use all available resources and personnel, as necessary.
- On Wednesday, Governor Shapiro, PennDOT Secretary Carroll, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, U.S. Department of Transportation Under Secretary for Policy Carlos Monje, Ryan Boyer from the Philadelphia Building Trades Council, and contractors announced the reconstruction plan to reopen I-95 safely and as quickly as possible and that the demolition of the damaged section of I-95 would be completed on Thursday – well ahead of schedule.
- Governor Shapiro and Secretary Carroll have been in contact with President Biden, Secretary Buttigieg, and members of the Biden Administration to ensure Pennsylvania has access to all federal resources to rebuild I-95.
- On Thursday, Governor Shapiro and PennDOT announced that a live feed has been set up so the public can watch the I-95 rebuilding process in real-time. Also on Thursday and as a result of Secretary Carroll’s leadership and the 24/7 work on the ground, Governor Shapiro and PennDOT announced that demolition had been completed.
Record Low Unemployment Rate: The Department of Labor and Industry Announces Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Rate Declines to 4.0 Percent in May
- Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate declined one-tenth of a percentage point over the month to 4.0% in May, the lowest rate on record (back to January 1976).
- Pennsylvania’s civilian labor force – the estimated number of residents working or looking for work – was up 1,000 over the month and Pennsylvania’s total nonfarm jobs were up 7,900 over the month to a new record high of 6,122,500 in May. This was the fifth month in a row that jobs have set a new all-time high level.
Prioritizing Public Safety: Supporting Victims of Gun Violence, Adopting New State Crisis Intervention Program Plan, Committing Grant Funds to Public Safety Initiatives
- Last week, Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis joined Senator Bob Casey and Representative Dwight Evans in Philadelphia to announce a state initiative to support victims of gun violence through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD), which Davis chairs. The new Resources for Victims of Gun Violence initiative and work with stakeholders to identify existing resources, as well as gaps and recommendations for improvement over the next year.
- This week, the Shapiro-Davis Administration took the first steps to use $8.5 million in federal funds for gun violence prevention, crisis intervention, and public safety, with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) voting to approve a statewide plan for resources allocated through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. Pennsylvania is among the first states in the nation to reach the milestone of developing and adopting its State Crisis Intervention Program Plan, and PCCD is responsible for administering the SCIP allocation.
- The federal State Crisis Intervention Program (SCIP) provides funds to implement state crisis intervention court proceedings and related initiatives designed to reduce gun violence.
Improving Commonwealth Services for Older Pennsylvanians: The Department of Aging Hosts First Regional Town Hall to Seek Input on Master Plan for Older Adults
- Last month, Governor Shapiro signed an Executive Order directing the Pennsylvania Department of Aging to develop its Master Plan for Older Adults – a 10-year roadmap to meet the needs of Pennsylvania’s senior population and improve Commonwealth services for older Pennsylvanians.
- On Thursday, the Department of Aging hosted its first regional town hall to discuss and gather input on the plan. At the regional town hall hosted by the University of Pennsylvania, Secretary Jason Kavulich was joined by faculty, state, and local legislators and leaders to present an overview of the plan.
Building a Stronger Hemp Industry: Department of Agriculture Awards More Than $390,000 to Fund Projects Aimed at Growing Fiber and Food Hemp Markets
- Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced $392,265 in grants to three agriculture nonprofits to fund projects aimed at growing fiber and food hemp markets, sales, and awareness in Pennsylvania.
- These matching grants are just one way Pennsylvania is feeding growth in the new hemp industry – the Department has also created state-level Specialty Crop Block grants through the historic Pennsylvania Farm Bill when federal funding for hemp was not yet available, funding key research and development at state higher ed institutions.
Putting More Teachers in Classrooms: The Department of Education Announces New Grant Funding to Help Paraeducators Earn Special Education Teaching Credentials
- The Department of Education announced that $1.5 million in grant funding is available to establish or expand opportunities for practicing paraeducators in Pennsylvania schools to become special education teachers at no cost while actively learning and working in their school.
- The grants will create new special education career pathways for paraeducators; increase the number of practicing paraeducators earning certifications, and/or postsecondary credits/degrees; and increase the number of practicing paraeducators pursuing PK-12 special education teacher certification through enrollment in a PDE-approved special education PK-12 certification program.
Ensuring Government Serves the People: Making Strides in Traffic Stop Data Collection, Opening Doors for Small and Diverse Businesses
- Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Colonel Christopher Paris penned an op-ed in PennLive to outline an independent analysis of data collected from all trooper-initiated traffic stops last year and to highlight the Department’s significant progress in traffic stop outcomes. The independent analysis shows that PSP’s data collection effort has had significant and continued improvement – and the PSP has one of the most comprehensive and high-quality data collection efforts in the United States.
- Department of General Services Secretary Reggie McNeil published an op-ed in The Philadelphia Tribune outlining the services and programs provided by the department’s Bureau of Diversity, Inclusion and Small Business Opportunities. The Shapiro-Davis Administration is taking action to cut the bureaucratic red tape and make government work better to serve all Pennsylvanians and is pledging to expand state contracting opportunities for our small minority, women and veteran-owned businesses.
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