On Tuesday night, new Gov. Andy Beshear gave Kentuckians an idea of what he will be focused on in his first year in the office during his State of the Commonwealth address.
Beshear spoke about the need for bipartisanship and putting party politics aside throughout his speech and said the future of the state depends on state leaders working together.
He also highlighted WHERE, an acronym he has used in recent speeches, to point to his administration’s priorities of improving wages, health care, education, retirement, and setting an example as he said he is committed to changing the tone in Frankfort because “there is more that unites us than divides us.”
Among other priorities he said must be tackled, Beshear stated Kentucky must invest in infrastructure, workforce training, and education.
On the issue of infrastructure, ensuring funding for projects like the Mountain Parkway and I-69, making sure Kentucky has clean drinking water, and providing high-speed internet across the state were all areas highlighted by Beshear.
As promised in his campaign, Beshear said he will prioritize public education in his budget proposal he will present to the legislature at the end of the month and noted he will include a $2,000 across the board raise for teachers and will increase funding for postsecondary education in his version of the budget. He also stated his administration will be committed to fully funding the state’s pension systems in the upcoming budget.
Beshear also stated the state must make serious reforms to the criminal justice system in 2020, not just have discussions on it.
With all these policies and the budget constraints Kentucky faces, he said there will have to be more revenue generated and pointed to gaming as a source of revenue. Beshear said he fully supports the sports wagering bill introduced by Rep. Adam Koenig in the House and added he hopes to see the conversation on casino gaming go even further.
Along with what is to come in the coming year, the new governor also noted steps already taken by his administration in the first few months including restoring voting rights for non-violent felons, rescinding former Gov. Matt Bevin’s Medicaid waiver, and removing the cost for Kentuckians to take the GED.
Beshear wrapped up his remarks by stating he is honored to serve as Kentucky’s governor and he looks forward to working with all the legislators and state officials in attendance to make progress for the state.