In the final State of the Commonwealth address of his term, Governor Andy Beshear spoke to the state’s historic economic growth, while laying out several priorities, including sports betting, medicinal marijuana, and teacher raises ahead of the 2023 legislative session of the Kentucky General Assembly.
Beshear began the speech by speaking to the challenges Kentuckians have endured in recent years, including a global pandemic, a devastating tornado, and historic flooding.
“What fills me with hope and pride is how Team Kentucky has responded to all of these challenges,” Beshear said. “We got through them, and we got through them together.”
The governor also touted the massive investment and new jobs added during his term.
“During my administration, we have now announced more than 800 private-sector new location and expansion projects totaling $24 billion in investments,” Beshear said. “And the best part: the creation of 42,600 full-time jobs!”
In terms of his legislative goals for the 2023 session, Beshear promoted his “Education First” plan for universal pre-K and a five-percent pay raise for public school teachers, in addition to legalization of sports betting and medicinal marijuana.
“Treating people right also dictates that in this session, this General Assembly finally legalize medical cannabis,” Beshear said. “Far too many Kentuckians are suffering from life-threatening and chronic conditions, like our veterans with PTSD, or Kentuckians with cancer.”
Bills to legalize both sports betting and medicinal marijuana passed the state House last session before falling short in the Senate.
Pay raises for teachers and universal pre-K likely would require legislators to re-open the state budget, something majority leadership from both the House and Senate have not expressed much appetite for in a non-budget year.
“What the governor talks about wanting to do is lofty,” Senate President Robert Stivers said. “You budget in the context of the whole, and where you get yourself in trouble is doing these types of budgeting maneuvers and gimmicks.”
Stay tuned to the Bottom Line for more updates.