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Daily Audio Newscast - April 2, 2024

News from around the nation.

Audio file

Report reveals inequities in NC school voucher system; Biden visit to bridge collapse announced as channel opens to Baltimore port; Colorado lawmakers eye ways to reduce pollution in vulnerable communities; Virginia seniors can benefit from dual-eligible special-needs plans.


The Public View Service daily newscast April the 2nd, 2024.

I'm Mike Clifford.

First to North Carolina where school voucher programs designed to aid low-income families are under scrutiny as a new report exposes discrimination within private schools.

More from our Shantia Hudson.

The report NC school vouchers using tax dollars to discriminate against students and families reveals that private schools also have discretion in choosing which students they admit.

Public school advocates raise concerns about this since the voucher programs are funded by taxpayers.

Heather Koons from public schools first NC emphasizes the need for stronger protections against discrimination based on religion, disability, academic performance and LGBTQ+ identity.

She says the report analyzes private school applications and public information uncovering various reasons why students could be denied admission to private schools.

Applications even said that we do not accept people from non-Christian denominations.

They would say things like no families that believe in the Muslim faith, no Jewish families, no latter day saints.

She says private schools in North Carolina have to follow the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity or national origin.

According to the recent making the grade report by the Education Law Center, North Carolina is ranked 48th in school funding with funding per student almost five thousand dollars below the national average.

Next President Joe Biden will visit Baltimore on Friday to survey the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse that comes as the Washington Post reports authorities said they have opened a small channel that will allow limited shipping at the port of Baltimore for the first time since the disaster.

And now to Colorado where in 2021 lawmakers took a first step toward addressing decades of toxic pollution disproportionately impacting low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.

They must now decide whether to act on that task force's recommendations in House Bill 241338.

Task Force Co-Chair Ian Tafoya says with a projected state budget shortfall of at least 170 million dollars, the future of the measure is uncertain.

With the looming budget cuts from our economic forecast, we're very concerned that environmental justice legislation like this is going to be on the chopping block and so we're really needing people to raise their voices and say that these issues are incredibly important.

HB 241338 calls for new research and documentation known as environmental equity and cumulative impact analyses in the state's most polluted zip codes.

Tafoya says that data can help lawmakers make better policy decisions on whether new industries can be located near at-risk communities and enforce rules for polluters already operating in those neighborhoods.

I'm Eric Galatis.

This is Public News Service.

Seniors in Virginia can see daily health and well-being benefits from certain health care plans.

Dual eligible special needs plans offer Medicare and Medicaid coverage for eligible people, meaning they meet the income requirements and live where the plans are available.

They're designed for people with low incomes, certain medical conditions, or unique health care requirements.

Dr. Gina Williams with UnitedHealthcare says these plans use a dynamic approach to help eligible seniors.

Everything from managing your wellness to managing your behavioral health needs and then everyday needs.

So it's kind of a more comprehensive package for people who need a little bit more support.

In Virginia, only 25 percent of eligible individuals were signed up for a dual eligible plan in 2021, a stark increase from three years before when only four percent signed up for one.

However, this is still lower than the national average of 29 percent.

Along with Medicare Parts A and B coverage and Medicaid benefits, these plans include dental coverage, transportation assistance, and allowances for things such as healthy foods.

I'm Edwin J. Vieira.

And Indiana high school seniors caught in a bureaucratic stall as glitches in the free application for federal student aid hinder aid processing.

More from Joe Uri.

This year, seniors must complete FAFSA or opt out by April 15th to graduate, coinciding with Indiana's state aid priority deadline.

Delays in the form's availability until January exasperated confusion, leaving many families unsure of their financial aid eligibility.

Bill Wozniak with InvestEd is reassuring students and families and emphasizing the collective effort to navigate the chaos.

Families are getting nervous about their FAFSA, nervous about college deadlines, nervous about deadlines for financial aid.

And so all these different things are having people and the colleges on edge as they try to get things set for the upcoming year.

Wozniak says despite setbacks, resources such as InvestEd aim to support Hoosiers in accessing Indiana's education fund.

Finally, Mike Mullen lets us know tomorrow is National Walking Day in the U.S.

The American Heart Association says nearly a quarter of U.S. adults are sedentary for more than eight hours every day.

The association's Chrissy Meyer says not only does that have a negative effect on physical health, but mental health too.

In promoting the benefits of walking, she sees an opportunity for individuals to improve outcomes on both fronts.

We've always known that physical activity is a great way to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease or heart disease and stroke.

But what we are learning now is that it's also good for your soul.

She says taking a daily walk helps reduce stress, improves your mood and sleep, all things that can boost your mental well-being.

This is Mike Clifford for Public News Service, member and listener supported.

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