Governor Wolf Visits Allentown School District, Highlights How Restore Pennsylvania Could Help Remove Lead Paint
Allentown, PA – Governor Tom Wolf toured the Hiram Dodd Elementary School in Allentown today to see first-hand the progress in removing lead paint in classrooms which can cause health problems. The governor outlined how Restore Pennsylvania, the most aggressive infrastructure proposal in generations, would help schools to address lead and other contaminants.
“Pennsylvania has many older schools with lead paint and other contaminants,” said Governor Wolf. “I commend Allentown and other communities for working on this problem, but we must do more.
“Restore Pennsylvania is the boldest infrastructure plan in generations. It could provide more funding so we can continue to remove the danger of contaminants in our schools and make our classrooms safe for students and teachers.”
Governor Wolf’s proposed Restore Pennsylvania plan is funded by monetizing a commonsense severance tax. Over the next four years, $4.5 billion would be provided for high-impact projects throughout the commonwealth. The investment would help communities address needs to remove lead paint, protect against flash flooding, combat blight, and expand high-speed internet and green infrastructure. These are all projects that communities need but lack the necessary funding to complete.
“Our children deserve to learn in healthy and safe classrooms,” said Governor Wolf. “Parents and teachers should not have to worry about the health risks of contaminants, like lead paint and dust in schools.”
The governor was joined on the tour by Allentown School District Superintendent Thomas Parker and state Representative Peter Schweyer. The tour included a classroom with flaking lead paint and a classroom with a completed remediation project.
“People across Pennsylvania expect their state government to make meaningful investments in infrastructure and neighborhoods,” said Rep. Peter Schweyer. “Governor Wolf’s bold yet responsible Restore PA proposal will inject much needed energy and resources into older communities like Allentown and help residents across the state. I’m proud to be a strong supporter of Restore PA.”
“The Allentown School District has 19 buildings that were built before 1950. In districts like ours, investing in repairing and updating buildings is critical. The district has invested more than $21.4 million in addressing these issues in the past five years,” said Allentown School District Superintendent Thomas Parker. “Additionally, we are building a new facility to ensure that our students are in the best learning environments, while working to manage constraints in our resources. Receiving extra funds to support building concerns is significant. We applaud Governor Wolf’s efforts to provide additional funding to update aging facilities in districts like ours.”
Lead Paint Remediation
Restore Pennsylvania will fund expanded efforts to remove lead and other contaminants from communities. Studies continue to find elevated lead levels in blood tests of Pennsylvania’s youngest residents, a result of Pennsylvania’s older housing stock, 70 percent of which was built before the 1978 ban on lead paint. Long-term exposure to lead paint can have devastating developmental consequences including lowered-IQ, memory problems, and other neurological and behavioral effects.
Flooding Prevention and Recovery
Restore Pennsylvania will provide funding for flood prevention that will protect against severe weather and save homes and businesses in flood prone areas across the state. Restore Pennsylvania will provide funding to help towns and cities prepare for flooding and severe weather, upgrade flood walls and levees, replace high-hazard dams, and conduct stream restoration and maintenance. Restore Pennsylvania will also establish a disaster relief trust fund to assist individuals who suffer losses that are not compensated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency or other programs.
Restore Pennsylvania will increase resources for addressing blight by providing financial resources at the local level to establish land banks and acquire and demolish blighted buildings in order to create new development opportunities or provide new green space. The funding will be administered by entities established by the legislature as land banks or demolition funds.
Restore Pennsylvania will provide funding to completely bridge the digital divide in every community in Pennsylvania, making Pennsylvania a better place to work, do business, and live. Grants will be available to support installation of infrastructure to bring high speed internet to every corner of the commonwealth. Funding will support every phase of the process from feasibility testing to connection.
Restore Pennsylvania is a statewide plan to aggressively address the commonwealth’s vital infrastructure needs. Funded through a commonsense severance tax, Restore Pennsylvania is the only plan that will help make Pennsylvania a leader in the 21st century.
Michael Gerber, DCED, 717.783.1132