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Gov. Beshear delivers budget address in Frankfort; education ‘top priority’

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 4:22 PM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Governor Andy Beshear went in front of Kentucky lawmakers Thursday night to deliver his budget address.

Most of what the governor discussed were details he’s been releasing all week.

The big things he hit on were education and raises. He’s also looking to invest more in agri-tech, which is something he has been supportive of since he ran for office. And as we learned Wednesday, bold healthcare investments in fully funding Medicaid.

He called it the “our future is now” budget with plans to invest in education, the workforce, and healthcare to change the trajectory of the Commonwealth, especially after the record year of economic growth and investments.

“Right now we don’t have to choose, we can be both fiscally responsible while making investments in our people,” Gov. Beshear said.

As Kentucky lawmakers work to pass a budget this session, the governor has an extensive wish list. All week we’ve been getting a look at what the governor is prioritizing, putting education at the top of his list. That includes funding pre-k, giving all school personnel 5% raises, and more than $500 million in seek funding.

“We must do more in this budget to keep, to retain our great teachers. So I’m providing $79 million over the next three years for a student loan forgiveness program for public school teachers,” Gov. Beshear said.

Beshear is looking to expand Kentucky’s agri-tech industry, giving $75 million for a research and development center in eastern Kentucky.

“My budget ensures that Kentucky will be the agri-tech capital of the United States, not just now but into the future. That means not just having the facilities, not just doing the work, but also coming up with the ideas, creating the intellectual property,” Beshear said.

Earlier this week the governor unveiled plans for healthcare, addressing the nursing shortage, public safety, and upgrades to infrastructure to attract companies.

“So this budget prepares us to secure the next Ford, and it aims to provide every Kentucky region with the opportunity to land it,” Beshear said.

In an unprecedented move, the House filed a budget bill before the governor’s address, saying they spent months meeting with stakeholders and waiting on the governor is a waste of time. Both House and Senate leaders are saying they have not actually seen the governor’s budget.

“It’ll take us probably over the weekend to figure out what the difference even looks like. To speculate whether or not there’s common ground at this point is really almost impossible,” House Speaker David Osborne said.

Speaker Osborne said he’s certain that they’ll be speaking to the budget director to clarify on questions they have on the governor’s budget, but he doesn’t know if that means they’ll also speak to the governor.

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