Beshear to propose “historic investments” for education

Now is the time for Kentucky to make “historic investments” in education and capitalize on the state’s economic momentum, taking advantage of the excess income, Gov. Andy Beshear said.

In an interview with the Associated Press on Monday, the Democratic governor previewed some of the budget proposals he will present to the Republican-dominated legislature early next year.

“You’re going to see historic investments in education in our next budget,” Beshear said in the Zoom interview.

“With one of the healthiest budgets we’ve ever seen, it’s time to invest,” he added.

Beshear has signaled that his legislative education proposals will include a pay hike for educators as well as “retention programs” to limit teacher turnover in classrooms.

Beshear made supporting public schools the hallmark of his successful 2019 campaign for governor. Now that he’s reached the middle of his term, next year’s budget work will give him another chance to meet more of his education policy goals before 2023, when he will run for a second term in Kentucky in. republican tendency.

On the overarching issue of his tenure, Beshear has vigorously defended his performance in leading Kentucky’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the state’s virus screening and vaccination efforts, “there are going to be more people alive (…) than there would have been otherwise,” he said. .

“I hope people will see this,” the governor said. “But I made all the decisions that I made because it was the right thing to do, and I will continue to do it. When it comes to life and death – and this is what this pandemic is – your personal popularity must come second to the health and safety of your people. “

Kentucky’s death toll from COVID-19 has passed 11,000, and Bluegrass state is hit by a further escalation in virus cases, hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions.

During much of the pandemic, the governor acted unilaterally by setting virus policies statewide, saying his restrictions were saving lives. Republicans have called his actions too broad and strict, and GOP lawmakers have passed measures limiting the governor’s emergency powers to impose restrictions on viruses.

His tenure was marked by political clashes with Republican lawmakers, who exercised their qualified majority status to impose their priorities in law. The governor said on Monday that the state’s policymakers should find common ground to take advantage of the state’s opportunities.

“I am ready to work with anyone who wants to move this state forward,” he said. “Our job in government, once elected, should not be to try to move this state to the right or to the left, but simply to move it forward. We are facing a unique opportunity to advance Kentucky economically in education, health care, in a way we have always dreamed of. We cannot grope this opportunity out of partisan grudge. “

Education, as usual, will receive considerable attention during budget work. Kentucky’s massive income surplus is likely to fuel even more interest group demands for public funds. Beshear said Kentucky also had an additional $ 1.1 billion to allocate from the federal pandemic assistance program known as the US bailout.

The governor said on Monday he will propose “a record amount of new funding for education.” Every level of education – from preschools to post-secondary education – will be targeted for “significant” investments as part of its spending plan, he said.

“This is how we break cycles of poverty,” Beshear said. “This is how we attract even bigger and better jobs. This is how we change everything here in Kentucky.

Boosting education is essential for Kentucky to reach its economic potential, he said. Despite the ongoing pandemic, the Beshear administration says Kentucky recorded its best year for economic development growth, surpassing $ 10 billion in private sector investment – led by the Ford Motor Co. decision and of its battery partner to build twin battery factories in Glendale, Ky.

Foreshadowing a potential re-election message, the governor said the state’s economic gains mean young Kentuckians “will have so many more opportunities in the future.”

The governor listed efforts to promote economic development and agricultural technology as other priorities in his next budget plan. Other spending proposals will include support for social services and the state’s workforce, he said.

“Let’s make sure that no older person is hungry,” he said. “Let’s make sure that we take care of our children in their public safety. You will see investments in our government employees.

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