Beshear: Commonwealth is strong and future bright
Published 9:46 am Thursday, January 5, 2023
Gov. Andy Beshear delivered his fourth State of the Commonwealth address before a joint session of the Kentucky General Assembly on Wednesday night, painting a strong Kentucky with a bright future.
He began his remarks by saying, “Tonight, I’m proud to report that, despite everything we have been through, including a pandemic, tornadoes, flooding, ice storms, a polar plunge, temporary but tough inflation, and even a war in Europe, the state of the Commonwealth is still strong, and our future is bright.”
“We enter 2023 with hope and optimism, after setting record highs in economic development and record lows in unemployment. That means that 2023 provides us a special opportunity for this state and for this legislative session to change everything for the better; to be the generation that puts aside partisanship and ushers Kentucky into a new era of prosperity.”
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Beshear said he was ready to “embrace the promise of tomorrow” instead of looking at the difficulties of yesterday.
“In the Book of Psalms, we’re told: ‘Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.’ The joy of that morning – a promise of a better Kentucky – means that our children and grandchildren never have to leave this state to pursue their dreams because no matter how big they dream, they can chase their dreams right here. A tomorrow where people don’t move from our state, but to it, where people and businesses choose Kentucky,” Beshear said. “The promise of a better future has never been brighter, as our commonwealth has emerged from the pandemic as a national economic leader. Every day, we are winning, with company after company picking us – picking Kentucky.”
Beshear noted that last year he delivered his address just weeks after the deadliest tornado outbreak in history hit the western Kentucky killing 81 people. This past summer, historic flooding devastated communities in the east, taking 44 more lives. And less than two weeks ago, a polar plunge hit the entire state, killing four people. All this on top of the nearly 17,700 Kentuckians lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beshear saluted those who helped throughout the disasters, including first responders, the Kentucky State Police, Fish & Wildlife officers, and the Kentucky National Guard. “In the face of some of the greatest challenges imaginable, time and time again, Kentuckians showed up for one another. Scripture tells us that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. And that’s exactly what folks across this commonwealth have been doing.”
As a community, Beshear said, “We’ve experienced pain and grief at a level not many can comprehend. But God is good, even through the most difficult tragedies, and we can always see His work in the response.”
The Governor spoke about economic development efforts. “In 2021, we had the best economic development year on record, with the largest total investment and most new jobs ever announced. With the books closed on 2022, I can announce we have now secured the best two-year period for economic growth in state history.”
He called on the General Assembly to approve medical cannabis and legalize sports betting, as well as shoring up the state’s public pension systems and provide pay raises for state employees and teachers. “If we double down right now, lead with our values, and push politics aside, there is nothing that we cannot achieve. Our future is brighter than it’s ever been.”
Reacting to the speech, Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said this would be one of the worst times to start doing what he termed one-off things to the budget regarding pay raises. “You budget in the context of the whole. Where you get in trouble is doing budgeting maneuvers and gimmicks. We’ve never had any conversation with the Governor on this. He’s never called us on anything related to a pay raise.”
House Speaker David Osborne pointed out that last year, “For the first time in three years, we actually got to do what we’re supposed to do and pass a two-year budget. I think that was one of the most fiscally sound and responsible budgets in Kentucky history.”