Gov. Beshear focuses on pandemic, tornado recovery in State of the Commonwealth address

Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 5:40 PM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Governor Andy Beshear gave his State of the Commonwealth address Wednesday night before a joint session of the Kentucky House and Senate.

Beshear called in lawmakers to focus on bettering Kentucky, addressing addiction and continue economic momentum, and avoid anger or division.

The governor started his address by saying while we enter 2022 with excitement and optimism, we’re still processing grief and sadness after unprecedented natural disasters and a continuing pandemic.

“Our commonwealth is strong. It is strong because we are strong,” Gov. Beshear said.

We saw signs of optimism from Governor Beshear Wednesday night after a year of adversity, saying despite the challenges in 2021, Kentucky is not backing down.

“We care deeply for one another. And while they may knock us down, no tornado, no pandemic, no flood, no ice storm can break us. Because we do not break,” Gov. Beshear said.

This is the third legislative session in a row to be impacted by the pandemic. Last year, the governor’s address was virtual. In his address he said Kentucky has the tools to defeat the virus, and encourages everyone to use them.

“Right now, people can drive or even walk to one or multiple locations where they can receive, free of charge, COVID testing, or a vaccination, or a booster. Get your booster,” Gov. Beshear said.

After the address, House and Senate Republican leaders were asked specifically about the pandemic, as cases rise at record rates.

“Naturally you’re going to be alarmed. I think both of us have advocated that individuals need to take the shots…” Senate President Robert Stivers said.

“People need to realize this is here and we’re going to have to deal with it. We’re going to have to move forward. We can’t sit back in quarantine and stay in the house and not live. We got to get out and move this economy, move this state, move our education system forward,” Stivers said.

As the governor ended his speech tonight, he called on lawmakers to continue the unity that we’ve seen in the last few weeks after the tornadoes.

House Speaker David Osborne said he, Senate President Stivers, and Governor Beshear have had conversations. Especially in the last few weeks regarding recovery from severe weather.

Next week, the governor will give his budget address. He said it’ll make historic investments in education and essential workers from state police, nurses, to address recruitment and retention. That includes raises for state workers.

He also wants to invest in infrastructure-- what he calls a “world class airport” in Paducah, water and sewer, expanding the Mountain Parkway and a Brent Spence companion bridge without using tolls.

Stivers was asked if he favors the raises and he said it depends on the logistics and being competitive with the private sector, saying a new minimum wage has been set not by statute, but how the pandemic has played out.

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