Governor unveils his budget plan for Kentucky education

Monday morning, Gov. Andy Beshear was joined by state and local education leaders to unveil historic investments in education as part of his upcoming budget proposal. The governor outlined his budget plan to make a record $2 billion investment in pre-K–12 education, the single largest investment in this sector in state history. His plan also included additional funding for higher education; as well as increased pay and benefits for public employees.

“We are in a transformative time. Whether we are referring to COVID or our economic boom, its clear things will be different going forward,” Gov. Beshear said. “A transformative time demands a transformative budget.”

The Governor began his address by touting the record-breaking number of new economic development project announcements in Kentucky last year; investments projected to bring $11.2 billion of investments and 18,000 full-time jobs to the Commonwealth from leading global companies like Ford, Toyota, GE Appliances, Amazon and more. The governor noted that 2021 was the best year for economic development in the states nearly 230-year history.

“We must meet this moment by ensuring we have a world-class education system to support our future workforce,” Gov. Beshear said. “Perhaps the most important step in ensuring we are never a flyover state ever again is investing in our teachers, schools and students. We are the destination, but to stay a world-class destination for world-class companies, we must have a world-class workforce. And that starts with education.”

In his budget, the Governor is proposing record investments at every level, from pre-K to postsecondary education as well as funding for career & technical education, teacher pay & benefits, and higher education.

Gov. Beshear began his budget outline by addressing investments in the Commonwealth’s youngest learners, providing universal preschool for all 4-year-olds and full-day kindergarten for every Kentucky child. The proposal also contains a 16.9% increase in SEEK funding; the largest investment of this type in 30 years.

Moving on to teacher pay & benefits, Gov. Beshear said it was past time to pay those educating our children what they are worth and proposed a minimum 5% salary increase for all school personnel in addition to the regular salary schedule increases for certified staff. This is the first identified pay increase in a state budget since the 2006-08.

The plan also includes:

  • A nearly 12% increase in funding for higher education.
  • $11 million in each year to provide statewide learning focusing on literacy and mathematical ability and to implement a regional coaching program
  • a 12.5% increase in the SEEK base per pupil funding formula for elementary and secondary schools
  • $22.9 million each year to restore funding for professional development as well as textbooks and instructional resources,
  • $175 million annually to fully funds school districts’ costs for student transportation (an 81% increase in funding).
  • $6.2 million each year to address this by assembling statewide staff and eight regional Social Emotional Learning institutes so that our educators have access to training on how best to help our students with their mental health. $97.4 million this year to support Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs with the renovation of 11 local CTE centers that were not funded last year
  • An additional $75 million for a new round of applications to renovate more CTE centers and an additional $8 million each year provides funding to 12 locally operated CTE centers
  • Additional funding for state-operated area technical schools in the amount of $3.2 million in fiscal year 2023 and $3.6 million in fiscal year 2024. 
  • $14.4 million in each year to support schools chosen by the U.S. Department of Education that need additional leadership, literacy and numeracy support
  • $2.5 million annually for grants to local libraries.
  • $26.3 million each year for a student loan forgiveness program that will provide a maximum benefit of $3,000 annually for public school teachers.

“There is no greater investment in our state’s future than education, which ensures the next generation is prepared to successfully enter the workforce and contribute to the incredible economic growth and job development Kentucky has worked to achieve,” said Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass.

Lastly, the Governor announced a new program – the Better Kentucky Promise Scholarship – which fills the gap between tuition and federal and other state aid for all new associate degree and certificate-seeking students at public universities and private, nonprofit Kentucky institutions.

Aaron Thompson, President of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, joined the governor adding “these investments in higher education are truly significant contributions to better the lives of Kentucky’s people, who will help power historic progress in the state’s workforce and post-pandemic economy,” said Thompson. “Now is the time to make strategic investments to provide greater opportunities to our citizens, regardless of where they are in the education pipeline.”

The press conference today comes after the Kentucky House Republicans unveiling a two-year state budget plan this past Friday; breaking with tradition and deciding not to wait to hear the governor’s proposals in his budget.

The governor called his budget “responsible and real” plan forward, adding that the Legislative Branch’s attempt to draft and file an Executive Branch budget without the knowledge or input of the Executive Branch itself is unprecedented, unprovoked, unprofessional, unwise and perhaps even unlawful.

“I look forward to my budget proposal getting the same consideration and treatment as every other governor before me regardless of political affiliation.” Gov. Beshear stated. “Let’s get to work moving our state forward by creating a world-class education system. Together we can turn 2 years of progress into 20 years of prosperity.”

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Jacqueline Pitts
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