FRANKFORT, Ky. — As expected, Governor Andy Beshear made some big promises during his inaugural speech. He spoke for just shy of 17 minutes but received a warm welcome and multiple big moments of applause.
Gov. Beshear announced voting rights will be restored for 100,000 Kentuckians whose felony convictions prevent them from voting.
"By taking this step, by restoring these voting rights, we declare that everyone counts in Kentucky. We all matter,” Beshear said.
There were loud cheers and yells of support as Andy Beshear announced he would sign an executive order on Thursday, restoring the rights of those who had done wrong in their past but are doing right now. He gave no exact details on who is impacted or when it will take effect.
Beshear announced he has already put an executive order into writing to reorganize the Kentucky Board of Education, as he promised on the campaign trail. He did not name who is going to serve on this new board. Current board members announced they are suing to prevent the move they claim violates state law.
"This morning I reorganized the state board of education and appointed new members who support public education,” Beshear said.
Education and educators were a large part of this moment. Jacqueline Coleman, the first active educator serving in the Executive Branch since Governor Martha Lane Collins, will also serve as Education Cabinet Secretary.
"The voices of our classroom, educators, the people on the front lines will take a prominent role in shaping public policy,” Lt Gov. Jacqueline Coleman said.
While campaigning Beshear and Coleman promised to give teachers a $2,000, across-the-board raise. Now, as governor, Beshear reiterated that it would be in the values budget proposal sent to lawmakers in the new year.
“If Kentucky is to compete nationally, to mention with our neighbors, we need to pay our teachers a living wage,” Beshear said.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle hope the words of unity and the festive feel of Inauguration Day will last longer than the echoes of the words spoken. But all admit that tight budget times can lead to relationships colder than this frigid day at the Capitol.
Beshear sworn in as Kentucky governor