This Week in the Shapiro Administration: From White Haven to Allentown, Governor Shapiro Reinforces Commitment to Investing in Mental Health, Safeguarding the Environment, and Supporting Older Adults
May 26, 2023
Governor Shapiro hosted a roundtable with Allentown students on mental health support in schools, opened a new access point at Lehigh Gorge State Park, and ordered the creation of the first-ever master plan for older adults
Harrisburg, PA – This week, Governor Josh Shapiro traveled across the Commonwealth in visits to White Haven, Scranton, and Allentown, meeting with Pennsylvanians to discuss his commitments to support youth mental health, safeguard the environment, and protect older adults.
In a visit to Lehigh Gorge State Park in Luzerne County, Governor Shapiro opened a new park access point and highlighted his proposed budget investment of $112 million to improve Pennsylvania parks and forests. Governor Shapiro also announced that the Administration secured a $10 million payment from Shell – including $6.2 million for local communities – to resolve air quality violations at its Beaver County facility. Shell also agreed to make repairs to the facility to reduce future exceedances.
On Thursday, the Governor signed an Executive Order directing the Pennsylvania Department of Aging to develop its 10-year Master Plan for Older Adults to improve Commonwealth services for 3.4 million older Pennsylvanians. Department of Aging Secretary Jason Kavulich will embark on a statewide listening tour to highlight the Master Plan for Older Adults and actively engage seniors across the Commonwealth in the plan’s development. In op-eds published by The Tribune-Democrat and York Dispatch, Governor Shapiro highlighted how his budget’s proposed expansion of the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program will also support seniors by putting money back in their pockets so they can stay in their homes.
Governor Shapiro continued to convene important conversations about mental health, hosting a roundtable with Parkland High School students in Lehigh County and a conversation on Black Mental Health with Department of Education Acting Secretary Khalid Mumin, First Lady Lori Shapiro, and experts and advocates from across the Commonwealth who are using their voices online to end the stigma. The Governor’s budget proposal includes $500 million over the next five years so schools can fund mental health counselors and services on site and $20 million in 2023-24 – growing to $60 million annually by 2027-28 – to restore mental health funding for Pennsylvania counties.
Read what Pennsylvanians are saying about Governor Shapiro’s commitment to supporting youth mental health and older adults:
U.S. Senator Bob Casey: “We owe it to the generations who came before us to ensure they have resources and support as they age. I commend Governor Shapiro for his leadership and his work to ensure that the needs of Pennsylvania’s seniors are front and center. As we build a better economy and look towards Pennsylvania’s future, we must ensure older adults and people with disabilities are given the support and protection they need to be healthy, safe, and economically secure.”
Secretary of Aging Jason Kavulich: “We are grateful to Governor Shapiro for signing this Executive Order authorizing the Master Plan for Older Adults. This Executive Order is a clear demonstration that the health, well-being, and quality of life for older adults is a priority for our Administration and for the Commonwealth. This master plan for aging will be crafted by Pennsylvanians, for Pennsylvanians – because we are committed to ensuring the voices of older adults are heard in every component of this plan. Our next priority is visiting the communities we serve to make sure those Pennsylvanians who want to be heard know their opinions, thoughts, and priorities are reflected in this strategic initiative.”
AARP Pennsylvania State Director Bill Johnston-Walsh: “We thank Governor Shapiro and his administration for embracing the need to launch a Pennsylvania Master Plan initiative at the onset of their tenure. We are proud to see that Pennsylvania, under our new Governor’s leadership, is rethinking how we approach aging and affirm that every resident is valued, respected, and deserves to live in healthy, safe communities that meet their needs, across their lifespan. Today marks a watershed moment for what it means to live and age in Pennsylvania.”
State Representative Michael Schlossberg: I’ve made reducing mental illness the cornerstone of my career. That’s why I am so, so honored to be standing with a Governor who has made reducing mental illness a top priority. Governor Shapiro has called for a half-billion-dollar investment in mental health in our schools over the next five years. This money will be used to give students better access to mental health supports and train more mental health professionals.”
Parkland High School Student Reva Gandhi: “As a student and a young person in our community, I know I am personally grateful for the proposed investment of half a billion dollars in resources in schools over the next 5 years. With students doing so much and facing potential stressors of their own, it is imperative that the Commonwealth supports them. It is heartening to see the potential that this proposed plan holds for our students.”
Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Cindy Dunn: “It’s moments like these where we’re celebrating wonderful infrastructure like this that have been a bit too rare over the last three decades. The public lands and parks of Pennsylvania need to make people feel safe and welcome. Governor Shapiro understands and grasps the advantage that we have in Pennsylvania with these wonderful natural assets and how to bring them to bear to even serve the public of Pennsylvania.”
Pocono Whitewater Operations Manager Sierra Fogal: “The Lehigh River provides accessible outdoor recreation for the entire tri-state area. It is a tourist destination that draws hundreds of thousands of tourists a year and provides an outdoor outlet to a diverse audience. This is only possible because of the work of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to protect and improve the state park so that it continues to thrive with increasing numbers of visitors. With the current support from the newly created Office of Outdoor Recreation, Director Hollis, Secretary Dunn, and Governor Shapiro, I’m confident that Pennsylvania will stay committed to these outdoor resources for our own personal enjoyment, as well as the tourism and outdoor recreation industry that is a main economic driver in this region.”
See what Pennsylvanians are reading about Governor Shapiro’s plans to ensure that every Pennsylvanian has the mental health support and resources they need: