Beshear discusses plan to help communities hit by tornado

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear delivered the State of the Commonwealth Address Wednesday evening, January 5, 2022, at the Capitol in Frankfort, Ky. (Scott Utterback / Courier Journal via AP)

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear delivered the State of the Commonwealth Address Wednesday evening, January 5, 2022, at the Capitol in Frankfort, Ky. (Scott Utterback / Courier Journal via AP)

PA

Gov. Andy Beshear on Wednesday evening revealed his intention to provide an assistance program to Kentucky communities devastated by recent tornadoes, promising to “rebuild every structure and every life” in a speech that underscored the state’s resilience to recover from a disaster.

The Democratic governor, delivering his third annual State of the Commonwealth Address, stressed the need for a bipartisan response to the storms that ravaged parts of western Kentucky last month, killing 77 people in the state. A New Year’s Day tornado outbreak caused further damage to several counties in Kentucky, some badly hit by the December storms.

Beshear, who had frequent political feuds with the Republican-led legislature during his tenure, said he was working with lawmakers on fast-track legislation to help communities recover.

“I want every family and community affected by these storms to know that I am with you, the General Assembly is with you, the Commonwealth of Kentucky is with you – today, tomorrow, however long it takes.” , said Beshear. rebuild. Every structure and every life.

Key Republican leaders in the legislature welcomed the governor’s message about working with lawmakers.

“I think the governor has set the right tone and the right tone to try to work together,” Senate Speaker Robert Stivers said in an interview with Kentucky Educational Television.

Stivers added that such collaboration happened too infrequently during much of the governor’s tenure.

Beshear, who is gearing up for a tough re-election campaign next year, has trumpeted the state’s record pace of economic growth in 2021. And he gave clues to the budget priorities he will put forward in the spending plan. which it will submit to lawmakers next week.

He also focused on the state’s ongoing struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit Bluegrass state with another record spate of cases fueled by the omicron variant.

“Yet even with these concerns, I remain convinced that we can and will beat COVID, because in 2021 we have gained the tools and knowledge we need for victory,” Beshear said.

In a speech frequently interrupted by applause in the House Chamber, the governor touted the state’s ability to bounce back from the repeated setbacks of the past year.

“In Kentucky, we’re good people, tough people, resilient people,” he said. “We care deeply about each other. And while they can knock us down, no tornado, no pandemic, no flood, no ice storm can break us. Because we don’t break.

Beshear presented plans to rebuild communities devastated by tornadoes.

Pending legislation will allocate $ 150 million to help storm-struck communities rebuild and an additional $ 50 million to help schools in the region recover, the governor said. It will also provide “additional tools” to attract and retain jobs in these communities, he said.

“It shows that we – Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate, executive and legislative branches – will stand alongside these families,” he said.

Beshear offered a preview of his budget speech scheduled for next week. The governor said his spending plan would include “historic investments” in education, a pay hike for state employees and investments aimed at spurring economic growth.

“I believe a budget is more than lines and numbers,” he said. “It’s a statement of values, and my next budget will reflect our Kentucky values ​​of family, faith, community, and deep compassion for our neighbors. “

Republican lawmakers, with veto-proof majorities, will finally reshape the budget to their liking during the 60-day legislative session that began on Tuesday.

Leading GOP lawmakers have indicated they want to revert to passing a two-year budget, after uncertainties from the COVID-19 pandemic led to one-year budgets over the past two years . Much of the budget work will revolve around what to do with unprecedented amounts of state surplus money as well as another huge round of federal pandemic aid.

Addressing a theme that may be a key part of his 2023 re-election message, the governor touted the state’s economic gains last year. Bluegrass State has seen record levels of private sector investment and job creation and the second highest wages in state history, he said.

Beshear landed a record-breaking economic development deal with Ford Motor Co. that put Kentucky at the forefront of the green energy movement. Ford has announced that it will build twin battery factories in Glendale, Ky., As part of a joint venture with its battery partner, SK Innovation of South Korea, to help power the next generation of electric vehicles in the Car manufacturer. Kentucky’s $ 5.8 billion project will create 5,000 jobs, along with many more potential from suppliers.

“Our time has come,” Beshear said in his speech. “Kentucky is no longer a flyover state. We are the destination.


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