Pa. Dems push to use federal funding on school repairs

Written by on February 22, 2021

Pa. Dems push to use federal funding on school repairs

Miles Bryan / Keystones Crossroads

February 22, 2021

Benjamin Franklin High School located on North Broad Street. The school was forced to close in 2019 due to exposed asbestos. Photo |Nathaniel Hamilton / WHYY

A coalition of Democratic lawmakers in Harrisburg is pushing to use some of the funding Pennsylvania is expected to receive from the next federal stimulus to help fix aging public schools. 

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The next stimulus package is still taking shape, but President Joe Biden wants to send $350 billion to state and local governments. 

On Feb. 19, a group of Pennsylvania Democrats pushed a plan that would take a substantial chunk of the Commonwealth’s cut and use it to pay for school infrastructure repairs including 

lead and asbestos remediation, and plumbing and electrical work. 

“We know that our schools were dangerous even before this pandemic. For generations our students, and school staff, have been sent into buildings where they can get brain damage because of chipped paint or cancer because of asbestos,” says state Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler, (D-Philadelphia).

The Democrats also want to make a state capital investment grant program available to schools seeking to fix infrastructure issues. 

Both of those things would require buy in from their Repubilican colleagues, who control the statehouse. 

Last week, a House GOP spokesperson was skeptical, saying lawmakers should focus on reopening schools for in-person learning. 

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