Gov. Andy Beshear delivered his budget address to a joint session of the General Assembly Thursday evening, calling on state lawmakers to make record investments to build a world-class education system, grow the jobs of the future and turn two years of progress into 20 years of prosperity.
“My budget is titled: ‘Our Future Is Now,’ because now is when we must make bold investments,” he said. “Now is our chance to move our state forward – not right, not left, but forward.”
While state budgets in recent years had to include several funding cuts and other tough choices on what gets funded, Beshear says that is not the case today. “Right now, we don’t have to choose, we are able to be fiscally responsible while making record investments in our people and in our future. The investments that we make now will benefit many generations to come and forever change our Commonwealth.”
Among the highlights:
► Adds a record $2 billion investment in pre-K–12 education, to create what he hopes will be a world-class education system statewide and is the single largest investment in this sector in state history.
“This budget starts at the earliest age, providing universal preschool for all 4-year-olds and full-day kindergarten for every Kentucky child, for the first time ever,” he said. “Pre-K helps address one of the biggest, most pressing obstacles for workforce participation. If we fund pre-K, we do more than just complain about parents getting back into the workforce. We do something about it.”
► Increases post-secondary education funding by nearly 12% over the biennium, and funds the Better Kentucky Promise Scholarship, which provides the last dollar for associate degree- and certificate-seeking students. It will cover the cost of tuition and mandatory fees for approximately 15,700 additional students over two years.
► Expands health care access and support services for Kentuckians, including fully funding Medicaid and Medicaid expansion, which many Kentuckians rely on, including more than 660,000 children.
“Living this faith starts with a basic human right – access to high-quality, affordable health care,” said Gov. Beshear.
► Includes $250 million in one-time funds to develop a Site Identification and Development program, which will allow Kentucky to be ready for the state’s next Ford- or Toyota-size project.
“We need to continue to be a national leader attracting the jobs of the future,” said Gov. Beshear. “Our families must have access to affordable health care and our most vulnerable need our support and protection. Let’s commit to work together on behalf of our people to build this better Kentucky that we all want. Our time is here. Our future is now.”
Written by Tom Latek. Cross-posted from Kentucky Today.