Beshear backs spending increases for education, health care


FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP/WTVQ) – Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has proposed spending increases for public education from kindergarten through college and for health care in his first budget plan.

“This investment must start with our teachers,” he said.

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Beshear’s proposal avoids spending cuts and counts on limited new revenues from taxes on sports betting, cigarettes, vaping and limited business tax.

The Democratic governor unveiled his budget in a speech Tuesday evening to the Republican-led legislature.

“These dollars are limited and they won’t undo the pain of the last 14 years, at least not all at once, so we must invest them wisely and we must lead with our values,” Beshear said.

His values? Public education, health care, children and families, good-paying jobs and pensions.

Beshear proposed a $2,000 pay raise for every public school teacher. He calls for a 1% increase in the funding formula for public K-12 schools.

He’s also partially investing in school safety upgrades, according to the school safety bill that passed in 2019.

“Sadly, we cannot satisfy all parts of safety bill,” he said. “But, this is a good first step.”

Beshear’s plan fully funds the state’s Medicaid program, including the Medicaid expansion started when his father was governor.

“Will work to sign up everybody that qualifies,” he said.

With all his proposals for the budget and only four new ideas to make more money for the state, the governor is looking to hear what lawmakers can come up with.

“I ask the legislature to find ways to generate more revenue without raising taxes on our working families,” Beshear said.

Democratic minority leaders both agreed they were satisfied with Beshear’s plan.

Both parties say they have a lot of work to do though. Neither party was briefed on the budget before the governor’s public speech. The media however, did get a brief of the details of the budget.

President of the Senate, Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said that’s not usually the case, leaving both parties with a lot of details to review.

Speaker David Osborne, R-Prospect, said at the end of the day the state house has full opportunity to make adjustments.

“I think at this point in time he has presented his vision and now it’s time for us to go to work on a responsible vision that we’re comfortable with,” Osborne said.

The budget proposal will start in the House and Speaker David Osborne, R-Prospect, said he expects to have it move to the Senate by the end of February.

If you want to watch the speech in full, head to the recorded live stream video on ABC 36’s Facebook page.