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House and Senate members give Gov. Andy Beshear standing ovations during his Budget Address

The governor's budget proposal includes funding for education, healthcare, infrastructure and pay raises.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear presented his 2022 Budget Address Thursday, Jan. 13 at 7.p.m.

"My proposal is based on Kentucky values, with investments set to make transformative change through a real and responsible budget," the governor said in a tweet prior to the meeting.

Leading up to his official address, Beshear held several press conferences to outline his priorities for this year's budget, which is titled "Our Future is Now."

Beshear said some of the budget strengths include it being the largest rainy day fund in state history and has a record-setting revenue surplus.

House and Senate members gave Beshear standing ovations throughout the budget address.

Here are some of the top points the governor previewed this week and addressed:

Education

Beshear's plan proposes a massive budget increase for Kentucky education, calling for state-funded preschool for every 4-year-old and an additional $2 billion in funding for preschool through 12th grade.

Other education initiatives include:

  •  An increase in base per-pupil funding under the state's main K-12 funding formula
  • Enough funding to cover districts' costs for school transportation
  • Funding for full-day kindergarten
  • Pay raises for school personnel
  • The largest funding increase for Kentucky's higher-education system in decades
  • Funds teachers' pension and medical benefits
  • Student loan forgiveness for public school teachers
  • Funds district costs for student transportation

Tourism, economy and development

Gov. Beshear said the state is in a financial position to "be bold" and "leapfrog other states" when it comes to economic advancement. In a preview address Tuesday, Beshear said his budget priorities would include funding for agriculture, commerce and infrastructure improvements.

His plan includes funding for:

  • Developing a site identification and development program to make small sites larger, preparing them for the "next Ford- or Toyota-size project."
  • Supporting and creating a research center to grow food in eastern Kentucky
  • Several infrastructure construction projects
  • Water and sewer improvement
  • High-speed internet across the state
  • One-time money from the General Fund to State Parks for upkeep
  • A focus on tourism, including a marketing campaign, travel and nonprofit arts organizations

Healthcare

On Wednesday, Beshear shared his budget priorities within the Commonwealth's healthcare system as Kentucky continues to push through the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Living this faith starts with a basic human right – access to high-quality, affordable health care,” said Beshear.

Highlights include:

  • Fully funding Medicaid 
  • Addressing Kentucky's nursing shortage
  • Maintaining the reimbursement rate for state nursing homes
  • Transforming Kentucky's local health departments
  • Implementing the new 9-8-8 crisis support line, which is set to replace the National Suicide Prevention Hotline in 2024
  • Funding additional childhood cancer research
  • Increasing the child care assistance program reimbursement rate
  • Expanding funding for the Kentucky Family Caregiver Program
  • Caring for Kentucky's veterans

Pay increases

Beshear's budget proposal also includes pay increases across several sectors, including:

  • A $15,000 bump for Kentucky State Police troopers
  • An $8,000 increase for dispatchers
  • A 5% increase across the board for state workers

Public Safety

Other highlights to help Kentucky families and the future include:

  • A 6% raise for all state employees
  • Immediate salary increase of $15,000 for Kentucky State Police officers and troopers
  • $8,000 salary increase for KSP telecommunicators
  • Body cameras for KSP
  • Returns 100% of coal severance back to coal-producing counties

Less than a week before the governor's budget address, Republican leaders in the Kentucky House of Representatives filed budget legislation of their own. Beshear said this was the first time in state history that the General Assembly filed budget bills ahead of the governor's proposal.

After Beshear’s address, Republican leaders said they need more time to digest the budget before making detailed comments.

“To try to speculate whether there’s common ground is really almost impossible,” House Speaker Senator David Osborne said.

Republican leaders acknowledged some agreement with Beshear, including childcare being the number one obstacle for the workforce.

“Those types of things we have a common goal but we have a different plan,” Senate President Senator Robert Stivers said.

Stivers said the surplus that Beshear talks about isn’t as great as it seems. He said the state has seen a huge spike in sales tax revenue and hasn’t seen the same spike in personal income because the federal government has given out money over the last year. 

Watch Beshear's 2022 Budget Address here:

Contact reporter Rachel Droze at rdroze@whas11.com. Follow her on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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