SHARE Email Facebook Twitter Press Release, Public Health Governor Tom Wolf today presented a series of proposed 2020-21 budget items totaling more than $1.1 billion to support reducing the risks to Pennsylvanians of lead and asbestos, and remediating existing toxins in schools, day care centers, homes, and public water systems.“Decades ago, well-intentioned Pennsylvanians constructed our homes, schools, waterways and other structures out of asbestos and lead because they were thought to be harmless, even superior materials,” Gov. Wolf said. “Now we know the serious harm both can cause. To build a better Pennsylvania, we first need to fix our foundation, which is why the five lead and asbestos removal initiatives I’m outlining today are so important.”Gov. Wolf’s proposed budget investments to address asbestos and lead include:Expanding the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program to SchoolsGovernor Wolf is proposing that up to $1 billion in grants from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) be used for lead and asbestos remediation in schools, a problem plaguing many of the state’s aging school buildings and causing health concerns for students and their parents, teachers, and staff.RACP is a commonwealth grant program administered by the Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational, and historical improvement projects.RACP projects are authorized in the Redevelopment Assistance section of a Capital Budget Itemization Act, have a regional or multi-jurisdictional impact, and generate substantial increases or maintain current levels of employment, tax revenues, or other measures of economic activity.Leveraging CHIP Health Services InitiativeThe Department of Human Services is working with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for a Health Services Initiative (HSI) to improve the health of children and families in Pennsylvania by increasing funding of lead remediation activities in places where children have been exposed to high levels of lead.Remediation projects could include paint, water, and other sources of contamination. We are currently contemplating enhancing funding opportunities for current HUD grant recipients statewide, but also building infrastructure in 1-2 new areas to increase the regions in Pennsylvania ready and able to assist in lead remediation efforts moving forward. Funding will also be made available for training and certification to increase the number of individuals who are EPA-certified to complete lead remediation in areas where there are shortages of individuals to do this work.The plan is to have the program operational next state fiscal year. With a $4 million state investment, $10 million in federal dollars could be leveraged annually for an annual total of $14 million to support efforts around lead remediation.Transferring PENNVEST Grant FundsLegislation recently passed in Congress allows a state to transfer amounts from its clean water state revolving fund to its drinking water state revolving fund in order to address a threat to public health as a result of heightened exposure to lead in drinking water. Specifically, a state may transfer no more than 5 percent of the cumulative amount of the federal grant dollars awarded for its clean water state revolving fund to its drinking water state revolving fund. It also requires that states coordinate with EPA to get their buy-in for the transfer.By taking advantage of this new flexibility, PENNVEST may be able to free up to $90 million for Pennsylvania to address lead in drinking water by providing grants for lead service line replacement statewide. The amount transferred will not have a negative impact on future projects that could have been funded with that money and will be determined based on the amount of available dollars at the time the program begins.PENNVEST has proposed to spend the next year working with communities to identify shovel-ready projects that can then be funded in 2021. Potential grant recipients will need to do testing, feasibility studies, and other consulting work next year to prep for projects.Convening Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program Grant RecipientsThe Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program helps communities address housing-related health and safety hazards, in addition to lead-based paint hazards through the Lead Hazard control and Healthy Homes grants. The state, as well as several local communities, received notice of $22.5 million in funding awards in late September 2019. All recipients will target funds towards homes for low and very-low income families with children and will work with medical and social service providers.At the most recent lead roundtable hosted by the commonwealth, the request was made for the state to convene all Pennsylvania recipients to ensure collaboration in implementation – a project the Department of Health is working to implement in the coming weeks under the direction of Gov. Wolf.Implementing Lead Testing in School and Child Care Program Drinking Water GrantAuthorized under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead Testing in School and Child Care Program Drinking Water Grant creates a program to assist with voluntary testing for lead in drinking water at schools and child care programs. The grant opportunity was announced in 2018 and applications were due this year however, award notices have not yet been issued.Pennsylvania submitted a grant application, which included the support of PENNVEST and the departments of education, environmental protection, health, and human services. If awarded, approximately $1.7 million in funds will be used to develop and implement a lead testing program in schools and child care facilities throughout the state. This testing will include the prioritization of facilities serving younger children (ages 6 and under), underserved and low-income communities, and facilities that are older and more likely to contain lead plumbing.Funding will support the testing of 3,000 schools and child care facilities.Gov. Wolf was joined by Sen. Vincent Hughes and Rep. Jason Dawkins, who provided remarks, as well as numerus other legislators and advocates in support of these budget proposals.“Far too much of Pennsylvania is toxic and unsafe as a result of lead and asbestos,” Sen. Hughes said. “Our homes, childcare centers, and schools suffer from serious disrepair and long-term neglect. Thank you, Gov. Wolf, for making a significant financial commitment to clean up these vital, necessary and fundamental places in our community. We intend to win on your proposal and to use that victory to propel us to a long-term even more robust investment.”“I’m inspired by the plan and bold leadership that the Governor has displayed today with this announcement,” Sen. Jay Costa said. “Children across the state have been exposed to dangerous chemicals and crumbling facilities for years, and we know that it impacts their physical and mental health for their entire lives. Governor Wolf’s programs outlined today will save future generations of children from these problems.”“The unhealthy dangers of lead contamination are proven without any doubt, and lawmakers should enthusiastically support the governor’s initiative,” said Rep. Frank Dermody. “It will make a critical difference in many thousands of lives.”“Our children deserve to learn and our teachers deserve to teach in schools that don’t make them sick,” Rep. Jason Dawkins said. “This is something that we can all agree on. But for far too long, our children, teachers and anyone else who has entered school buildings in Philadelphia have literally taken their own lives in their hands. Why? Because often lead and asbestos were lurking inside. My delegation colleagues and I are overjoyed at the news that Gov. Wolf will be making investments in lead and asbestos remediation projects in our schools. Finally, we can take the steps to make our school buildings safe places to learn and to teach.”Gov. Wolf first introduced his Lead-Free PA initiative in August 2019 to call attention to the need for a law requiring universal blood level testing of children according to federal guidelines, and to convene regional task forces to address specific local needs.A Lead-Free PA task force convened in December to gather the input of communities and their partners toward compiling a complete list of needs so that funding, when allocated, goes directly to programs and initiatives that produce swift and measurable results toward protecting Pennsylvanians.“Together, these programs have the potential to assist thousands of Pennsylvanians with living healthier lives free of lead and asbestos danger,” Gov. Wolf said. “We have the opportunity to correct the past, and to build a brighter future. Pennsylvania should be a place free of lead and asbestos.” January 29, 2020 Gov. Wolf Announces Billion-Dollar Plan to Fix Toxic Schools, Address Lead Across Pennsylvania
The pension fund’s return portfolio returned 7.9% in total, with private equity, real estate and credit returning 20.2%, 5.6% and -1.6%, respectively.Dooren attributed the performance of the private equity holdings to the portfolio’s maturation.“Companies we invested in a decade ago are now being sold and have increased in value,” he added.The scheme’s 47% matching portfolio, consisting of government bonds, swaptions and liquidities, returned 1.3%.“This was largely thanks to the divestment of our €75m swaptions portfolio in February,” said Dooren, adding that the pension fund incurred a 0.3% loss on its government bonds.The Nedlloyds Pensioenfonds finished 2015 with a policy funding of 116.7%, which enabled it to grant its pensioners and deferred participants an indexation of 0.35%.In other news, the €3bn pension fund of technical research institute TNO returned 2.6% last year, generating positive results on all of its asset classes.Equity, fixed income and mortgages returned 8.2%, 0.6% and 6.4%, respectively, while real estate and private equity returned 7.7% and 15.3%.The pension fund said its overall annual return included a 0.6% return on its interest hedge, as well as a 1.5% loss on its 50% hedge of the main currencies.Hans de Ruiter, the scheme’s CIO, said the board decided to reduce the interest hedge from 50% to 40% at year-end, as the 30-year swap rate hit the preset trigger level of 1.5% as part of its dynamic hedging policy.As at the end of December, the TNO scheme had a policy coverage rate of 111.7%.The pension fund recently announced that it would grant an indexation of 0.05%. The €1.4bn pension fund of shipping company Nedlloyd has reported a 4.7% return for 2015, attributing the performance chiefly to the active management of its equity holdings.Frans Dooren, the scheme’s director, said the pension fund’s equity allocation – comprising one-third of its 53% return portfolio – returned 10.4%, outperforming its benchmark by 3.8 percentage points.He added that, over the last five years, the pension fund had outperformed its benchmark by 1.8 percentage points on average.Dooren said the scheme’s overall return outperformed the benchmark by 1.9 percentage points.
The USC Veterans Association hosted a barbecue Saturday in McCarthy Quad, where student veterans chatted with USC senior quarterback Matt Barkley and went on an exclusive tour through the new John McKay Athletic Center.USC students and alumni from all branches and ranks of the armed forces enjoyed an afternoon of food, music and games in celebrating their shared experiences as veterans and Trojans.Service members · USC Veterans Association members gather at McCarthy Quad on Saturday for a barbecue and tour of the McKay Center. – Photo courtesy of the USC Veterans AssociationThis was the group’s first on-campus barbecue.USC Veterans Association President Joshua Jacobs said the purpose of the event was to advance the group’s broader goals: community-building and networking.“We focus on fostering an internal community among USC veterans and ensuring that good jobs are in place for them,” Jacobs said. “Members know that they have a home here and that they can pursue career paths after the military.”According to Jacobs, there are 500 veterans currently enrolled as students at USC. The USC Veterans Association has grown significantly over the past four years, from about five original members to approximately 100 members. The organization relies solely on donations from alumni.Barkley attended the event to thank the association’s members for their service. At his high school alma mater, Mater Dei, Barkley joined his parents in their “Monarchs for Marines” campaign, which focused on supporting military families through the renovation of youth areas near Marine Corps Base at Camp Pendleton. Barkley’s grandfather served in the Navy and Barkley addressed the USC veterans as his “heroes.”“The servicemen hold a special place in my heart,” Barkley said. “I’ve had respect for [them] since I was a kid. This is a great opportunity for me to thank the Trojans as well as the veterans who served our country so diligently.”Attendee and veteran Vijay Maisuria, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and corporate finance and is currently a graduate student at the Leventhal School of Accounting, said he enjoyed seeing Barkley at the event.“As veterans we share a certain brotherhood and sisterhood, but we’re also members of the Trojan Family,” Maisuria said. “It’s an amazing feeling to know that Barkley supports our exclusive group.”USC center Khaled Holmes, whose grandfather served in World War II, also joined Barkley at the event. The two signed autographs and conversed with guests.“I have tremendous respect for the veterans of the military,” Holmes said. “I’m here to say thanks for all that they do.”The USC Veterans Association officially formed in October 2008. Jacobs said the group aims to provide veterans transitioning into USC with networking opportunities and a sense of belonging.“Coming from different backgrounds and experiences, veterans often have trouble when they are thrown back into school and must manage their finances, live in a new environment and perform academically,” Jacobs said.USC Veterans Association Treasurer David Kim said though veterans are known to be “lone wolves,” he recognizes the importance of connecting with peers. Kim said the association promotes pride among student veterans and encourages them to find a common voice.“The Veterans Association seeks to provide support for the personal and school-related issues of its USC members,” Kim said.The group’s other events include general meetings, community service projects and social events like tailgates and family-oriented outings in Los Angeles. The association’s leaders hope to continue their commitment to social companionship and professional and academic leverage.“We are pushing to have a veterans resource center built on campus to give returning soldiers a place to go for help and connections,” Jacobs said.Keith Williams, USC Veterans Association vice president, also said the group’s short-term goals include attracting consistent membership, fundraising and furthering networking efforts on campus and in the community.Jacobs said the association exemplifies the university’s commitment to serving the country, noting that USC has never eliminated its ROTC program.“As long as we’re respectful, tactful and passionate, the Trojan Family wants us to succeed,” Jacobs said. “If its students succeed, the school succeeds. It’s a symbiotic relationship.”