DUNMORE, November 18, 2022 – Yesterday, State Senator Katie Muth (D- Berks/Chester/Montgomery), Chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, joined state Senator Marty Flynn (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne) to host a public hearing at the Fricchione Early Learning Center at Marywood University on access to early childhood education and literacy issues facing Pennsylvania students.
The hearing featured testimony from various educators and policy experts who all discussed the importance of high-quality childcare, early language, and pre-literacy skill development and how literacy has lifelong impacts on mental health, academic achievement, and professional success. Also discussed were issues regarding Pennsylvanians staffing shortages and inadequate compensation. A recent survey of almost 1,000 PA childcare programs showed nearly 7,000 vacant positions, resulting in more than 32,000 children languishing on waitlists for childcare.
“Being a proficient reader has an impact on a student’s entire education, and ultimately their ability to succeed. Those in power in the state government need to make the necessary structural changes to fully support high-quality early childhood development, pre-K education and literacy programs, as well as adequately compensate the professional staff that take care of and teach our kids,” Muth said. “Yesterday’s hearing should be a wakeup call to all legislators and the incoming administration that PA is on the verge of a childcare and literacy crisis. We heard firsthand from educators, advocates, and policy experts about the deficits and unmet needs of our children, childcare workers, teachers, and families. There needs to be urgent action to address these structural deficiencies to ensure that every child and family has access to what they need to thrive. Decades of inadequate funding for these critical initiatives have left families and communities without the support they need and deserve. Leaders in our state government need to implement long term investments so that all Pennsylvania families have access to high-quality, accessible early childcare and education opportunities for their children, provided by professionals that are properly trained, adequately compensated, and supported.”
Literacy skills are considered one of the strongest predictors of health status, more so than age, income, education level, or race/ethnic group. Studies show that children who participate in high-quality Pre-K programs perform better in school, are more likely to graduate, and earn more throughout their lives compared to peers without access to early learning programs.
“Thanks to the expertise of today’s testifiers, I am certain that we have increased public awareness and engagement around the importance of early childhood education and how access affects literacy success,” said Senator Marty Flynn.
According to statistics compiled by the US Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy, 19 percent of high school graduates cannot read, and 21 percent of adults read below a 5th grade level.
“It’s important to note that before COVID struck, far too many children in the state were failing to meet the state’s benchmarks for successful third grade reading proficiency,” Donna Cooper, Executive Director, Children First added. “Over half – 51.3% – of third grade children statewide failed to meet the state’s benchmark for proficiency according to the last valid year of PSSA results in 2019.”
Cooper noted that among the counties represented by Senator Muth and Senator Flynn, even in the highest performing county – Chester County – a quarter of third grade children failed to meet benchmarks for successful third grade reading proficiency. In Lackawanna County, 41.6 percent of students failed to meet benchmarks.
Other testifiers at the hearing included Donna Reid-Kilgore, Pre-K Counts Teacher, Bloom Early Education Center; Laura Sosik, 2nd Grade teacher at Isaac Tripp Elementary School, Scranton School District; Donna Salva, Adjunct Professor in Graduate Reading and Education Programs, Marywood University; Lindsey Ramsey, Assistant Director of Policy and Practice, Trying Together; Kimberly Early, Senior Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children; and Donna Cooper, Executive Director, Children First.
State Reps. Kyle Mullins, Eddie Day Pashinski, Bridget Kosierowski, and Thom Welby also participated in the public hearing.
Other members of the Senate Democratic Caucus that participated in the hearing virtually included Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, Senator Amanda Cappelletti, Senator Sharif Street, and Senator Tim Kearney
All submitted testimony from the policy hearing and the full video is available at SenatorMuth.com/Policy.
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Panel 1: Educators
Panel 2: Policy Experts
HARRISBURG, PA – November 3, 2022 – Several measures from Senator Marty Flynn’s (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne) Turnpike Reform Package have been signed into law today under Act 112 of 2022.
The Act, among other measures, includes provisions that will help recoup some of the more than $150 million in uncollected Turnpike tolls and reestablish public confidence in the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.
“With this law, those who deliberately avoid paying tolls will begin to face consequences,” said Senator Marty Flynn. “Pennsylvanians wanted answers and solutions to the deficiencies of toll collection across the Commonwealth, and the legislation I wrote delivered on that.”
Specifically, the law will:
- Require the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to submit an annual report to the General Assembly that outlines revenue from collected tolls as well as missed revenue from uncollected tolls during the prior fiscal year.
- Lower the threshold needed to trigger a registration suspension from six unpaid tolls to four, or from $500 in total unpaid dues to $250.
- Raise the statute of limitations from three years to five years, so Turnpike officials have a longer window to pursue offenders.
- Make it unlawful to obstruct, manipulate, or remove a license plate from a vehicle to impede electronic toll collection.
- Require the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to conduct a feasibility study to assess alternative electronic toll collection payment options
Several sections of the act were taken directly from Senator Flynn’s Turnpike Reform Package, a group of bills he proposed as a direct response to the disclosure that more than $100 million in Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls went uncollected from June 2020 through May 2021. Since being named Minority Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, Senator Flynn has been a leader in the effort to hold the Turnpike Commission accountable for their lost revenue.
Act 112 of 2022 will take effect in 60 days.
SCRANTON, PA – October 26, 2022 – Senator Marty Flynn (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne) has announced a total of $14,250,000 in grants awarded to 16 projects in the 22nd Senatorial District through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) – a Commonwealth grant program for the acquisition and construction of economic, cultural, civic, recreational, and historical improvement projects.
“Each grant awarded through this program will be geared to improving the quality of life for people in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Senator Flynn. “In addition to that, they will create jobs and have a direct economic impact on our community; supporting these projects is a no brainer.”
The following entities were awarded grants through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program:
- Redevelopment Authority of the City of Pittston: $1,00,000 for Pittston City Market and Main
- JK & BK, LLC: $1,500,000 for Pittston City Redevelopment
- Hoofty Holdings, LLC: $500,000 for 105 Corner Street, Dunmore
- Limited Liability Company-C corp: $2,00,000 for 1100 Penn Avenue Development
- Scranton-Jefferson 321, LLC: $500,000 for 333 Jefferson Avenue
- JAC Realty, Inc.: $500,00 for Covington Retail Center
- Lakeside NEPA, Inc.: $1,000,000 for Expansion of Facility for Additional Mental Health Services
- Indo-American Community of Scranton, Inc.: $500,000 for IACOS Community Center
- The Jewish Home of Eastern Pennsylvania: $1,000,000 for Jewish Home of Eastern Pennsylvania
- S. Johnson Technical Institute: $1,000,000 for Johnson College New and Enhanced Technical Training Facilities
- Scranton-LTI, LP: $500,000 for the Leonard Theater
- Greenwood Hose Co. No. 1: $1,000,000 for Moosic Fire and Police Building
- Second Chapter, LLC: $1,000,000 for Olyphant Small Business Expansion
- Crown S. Abington Holdings, LLC: $1,000,000 for Abington Redevelopment Phase II
- Crown Holdings of NEPA, LLC: $750,000 for Yatesville Commercial and Industrial Development
- King’s College: $500,000 for King’s College Student Success Center
Administered by the Pennsylvania Office of the Budget, RACP projects must 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.
SCRANTON, PA – August 24, 2022 – Senator Marty Flynn (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) in partnership with Representatives Thom Welby, Kyle Mullins, and Bridget Kosierowsiki will be hosting a senior fair on Friday, September 9.
The event will feature more than 50 community vendors offering assistance and information on health and wellness, finances, transportation resources, and personal care services. Attendees will also be able to receive a free flu shot.
“After taking two years off because of the pandemic, I am excited to welcome back the seniors in our area for this educational and fun event at the Steamtown mall,” said Flynn.
“Our senior citizens spent their lives making out area a special place,” Mullins said. “This event is an important opportunity to give back and raise awareness of the services and programs that exist throughout the community for their benefit.”
“I’m looking forward to this year’s Joint Senior Fair. It’s a great one-stop shop for people to learn about the new and existing services which benefit our senior citizens,” Kosierowski said. “It’s important to meet with our older residents and make sure they have access to the resources and help they need to take care of themselves.”
“I am excited to be a part of this informational event that will highlight more than 50 agencies or services, while also having representatives from the offices of our State Senator and three State Representatives all in one easily accessible location,” said Welby.
The Senior Fair will occur from 11:00AM-2:00PM at the Marketplace at Steamtown, located at 300 Lackawanna Avenue, Scranton, PA 18503. Parking is free for three hours with ticket validation.
SCRANTON, PA – July 22, 2022 – Senator Marty Flynn (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) will host a community Book Bash this Sunday, July 24 to promote childhood literacy and launch a month-long book donation drive in partnership with the Lackawanna County Library System.
Following remarks from Senator Flynn, attendees can enjoy a live storytelling by local author and illustrator Lindsay Barrett George, crafts and children’s activities, and free ice cream from the Fidelity Bank Ice Cream Truck.
Attendees are encouraged to bring new or gently used children’s and young adult books to be donated to local children to ensure reading success in the community.
“This event is all about showing kids that reading can be fun,” said Senator Flynn, “But, children can’t and won’t be able to read if they don’t have access to books. So, in addition to this event, my office and the Lackawanna County Library System will be spearheading a book collection initiative so that more books can get directly into the hands of kids.”
The Book Bash will occur from 1:00PM-3:00PM at the Lackawanna County Children’s Library, located at 520 Vine Street, Scranton, PA 18509.
Until August 26, Senator Flynn will be collecting book donations at the following locations:
SENATOR FLYNN’S OFFICES
409 North Main Avenue
Scranton, PA 18504
307 Betty Street
Eynon, PA 18403
LACKAWANNA COUNTY LIBRARY SYSTEM
Abington Community Library
1200 West Grove Street
Clarks Summit, PA 18411
Albright Memorial Library
500 Vine Street
Scranton, PA 18509
Carbondale Public Library
5 North Main Street
Carbondale, PA 18407
Dalton Community Library
113 East Main Street
Dalton, PA 18414
Lackawanna County Children’s Library
520 Vine Street
Scranton, PA 18509
The Marketplace at Steamtown – Second Floor
300 Lackawanna Avenue
Scranton, PA 18503
Nancy Kay Holmes Branch Library
1032 Green Ridge Street
Scranton, PA 18509
North Pocono Public Library
1315 Church Street
Moscow, PA 18444
Taylor Community Library
710 South Main Street
Taylor, PA 18517
Valley Community Library
739 River Street
Peckville, PA 18452