KENTUCKY (WFIE) - Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear delivered the 2021 State of the Commonwealth address Thursday night virtually - a first for the commonwealth.
His address in stark contrast to his first speech a year ago, focusing on the coronavirus pandemic and the events that occurred in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, which delayed the speech a day.
“It is hard to believe just how much can change in a single year,” Beshear said. “Over the past 10 months, we have been at war.”
The ongoing effects of COVID-19 influencing much of the Governor’s new proposed budget.
“My Better Kentucky Budget is built on three pillars: relief for small business and Kentucky families; prioritizing our people; and bold investment in our future.”
In the budget, Beshear proposes $220 million to help small businesses, $48 million in individual relief and $152 million to repay unemployment insurance loans. Also included, a 1% raise for state employees, as well as a $600 stipend increase for law enforcement and firefighters.
“The first key to revitalization in Kentucky must begin with education,” Beshear said. “My budget calls for a $1,000 salary increase for every teacher, bus driver, cafeteria worker and other hardworking school employee in Kentucky.”
Another key focus - helping the state after COVID-19. A one-time investment of $100 million will go towards repair and rebuilding of Kentucky schools.
“This will improve the experience of students, educators and staff; it will enhance the surrounding communities,” Beshear said. “It will also create thousands of construction jobs and unleash a wave of positive economic activity across Kentucky.”
The Governor also touching on laws he says restrict the state’s growth:
“It is time to legalize medical marijuana, pass sports betting and save historic horse racing,” Beshear said.
Finally, addressing Wednesday’s events in Washington, D.C.
“We must clearly denounce – in one voice – the domestic terrorists that threaten our country and stormed our U.S. Capitol,” Beshear said. “There is so much we can – so much we must – do right now. Let’s rise to the occasion.”
You can watch Gov. Beshear’s full address in the video below: