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First responders, nurses, corrections employees all ask to be included in Kentucky's bonus pay for essential workers

Representatives from the Kentucky Professional Fire Fighters said just because there was a pandemic, call volume didn’t go down.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — According to a spokesperson for the governor, Gov. Andy Beshear plans to ask lawmakers to approve $400 million of federal pandemic relief funding from the American Rescue Plan for bonus pay for essential workers.

Monday, House Democrats heard from representatives from a variety of professions asking for a chunk of that money.

The Kentucky Nurses Association asked for 25% of the proposed bonus pay, saying their employees are understaffed and overworked.

“If we don’t address the nursing shortage issue now what we’re getting after pandemic is going to be untenable,” Kentucky Nurses Association CEO Delanor Manson said.

Firefighters also asked for a chunk of the potential funding.

During the hearing Monday, representatives from the Kentucky Professional Fire Fighters said just because there was a pandemic, call volume didn’t go down.

“While they definitely didn’t get into this profession for excessive pay or benefits, or even praise, it’s disheartening for them to see others receive financial recognition for their extraordinary dedication and sacrifices while their dedication and sacrifices have been ignored,” Kentucky Professional Fire Fighters President Joe Baer said.

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A representative from the Louisville Department of Metro Corrections (LMDC) said lawmakers should consider corrections officers for bonus pay because the pandemic is still taking a toll on its employees.

“COVID has only increased the stress on our officers due to officers having to take two or more weeks at a time off work to be quarantined amongst a facility that is already severely understaffed and overpopulated,” LMDC Lt. Darrell McNeese said.

Police and paramedics also asked to be included if the bonus pay gets approved. 

Just because the governor, who is a Democrat, plans to propose using some of the federal pandemic relief money for bonus pay doesn’t mean the Republican-controlled legislature will sign off.

GOP leaders have asked the governor to put forward a plan they can consider in their upcoming legislative session.

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