FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 28, 2022) – In his third year in office, Gov. Andy Beshear continues to help Kentucky families and communities rebuild after deadly tornadoes and flooding, all while securing historic, all-time records, including the best two-year period for economic development and job creation, record-high budget surpluses and the longest period of the lowest unemployment rate in state history.
This year, the Governor and business partners also cemented Kentucky’s status as the electric vehicle battery production capital of the United States by following last year’s largest-ever economic development announcement by Ford Motor Co. and SK On in Hardin County with the second-largest announcement ever by Envision AESC in Bowling Green. The Governor also announced the largest economic development project in the history of Western Kentucky with Ascend Elements, another boost to the EV battery production industry in the commonwealth.
Gov. Beshear has increased efforts to improve public safety, including providing Kentucky State Police with the largest single-year raise, and is making the largest reforms to juvenile justice in nearly 20 years. The Governor thanks all the state’s first responders, including Kentucky National Guard members, state troopers and Fish and Wildlife officers, who continue to go above and beyond to serve and protect Kentucky families daily and during natural disasters.
Gov. Beshear also pushed forward major infrastructure projects that have been planned for decades, including the I-69 Ohio River Crossing in Henderson; Kentucky Highway 30, which runs from Booneville to London; and the Mountain Parkway Expansion. The Governor also has made significant progress with Ohio to seek federal funds for the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project, which will include the construction of a second bridge to carry Interstate Highways 71 and 75 across the Ohio River in Northern Kentucky.
In 2022, the Governor announced programs to boost workforce participation by improving health in critical areas and helping inmates find jobs after they have paid their debt to society. The Better Kentucky Plan is helping to provide Kentucky families with clean drinking water and access to high-speed internet. Gov. Beshear also expanded access to affordable health care for new moms and children and broke ground on the first hospital in Louisville west of 9th Street in more than 100 years and a new state Veterans Center in Bowling Green.
After the General Assembly failed to take action, the Governor issued an executive order to allow certain Kentuckians – like our veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and those suffering from chronic and terminal conditions, like cancer – access to medical cannabis.
“My administration is focused on helping address the worries our families stay up at night thinking about, like having a good-paying job and health care, as well as making sure their kids have the best education,” Gov. Beshear said. “I have faith that, together, we are building that better, brighter Kentucky – one where we never have to worry about our kids or grandkids leaving, because every opportunity they seek is already here. As the dad of young children, this is personal to me – and along with our economic success comes a responsibility to make sure prosperity reaches every corner of the commonwealth. That is what I am committed to doing.”
Given the state’s booming economy and recent projections indicating he will preside over the four highest years of state budget surpluses in the commonwealth’s history, the Governor said that investing in public education is imperative and asked the General Assembly to pass his Education First Plan.
Gov. Beshear’s plan aims to address student learning loss brought on by the pandemic and years of denied pay raises that have contributed to the state’s nearly 11,000 public school teacher vacancies. It does so by providing funding for a 5% pay raise for all school staff, universal pre-K, textbooks, technology and training, teacher student loan forgiveness and social and mental health services. The Governor is also asking lawmakers to restore pensions for new teachers, which he said is the single most effective action we can take to keep new teachers in the classroom.
“It’s simple: You cannot catch a child up in math if they don’t have a math teacher.” Gov. Beshear said. “It is time to put politics aside and show our children and educators how much we value them by investing in them.”
In the coming year, the Governor also plans to unveil a permanent memorial on Capitol grounds to honor the lives of the 17,670 Kentuckians lost to the pandemic.
Key Records and Support for Families
- More than $1.2 billion in state and federal funding as well as donations made available to families and communities impacted by Western Kentucky tornadoes ($828 million) and Eastern Kentucky flooding (nearly $400 million) to date.
- Provided nearly 1,200 households shelter following devastating natural disasters.
- Secured the best two-year period in state history for economic growth, and to date has secured more than 800 private-sector new location and expansion projects, $24 billion in investments and the creation of 42,600 full-time jobs.
- This year, the average incentivized wage was $26.78 before benefits, an 11.5% increase over 2021’s $24 average, which itself was already the second-highest mark over an eight-year period.
- Announced the No. 1 economic development project for all of 2022 and the second-largest project in state history: Envision AESC’s $2 billion, 2,000-job EV battery Gigafactory in Warren County.
- Broke ground on the game-changing, nearly $6 billion BlueOval SK Battery Park in Hardin County that will create 5,000 jobs, making it the biggest economic development project in state history.
- Announced the second-largest project announcement for all of 2022, and the single largest investment in Western Kentucky history with Ascend Elements’ nearly billion-dollar investment in high-tech battery recycling and production, which is bringing 400 jobs to Hopkinsville.
- Kentucky’s bourbon and spirits industry had its No. 1 year for growth in our state.
- Secured the lowest unemployment rate at or below 3.9% for the longest stretch in our history this year.
- Projected to have the four largest budget surpluses in the commonwealth’s history, bringing the state’s rainy day fund to over $3 billion at the end of fiscal year 2023 and $4 billion at the end of fiscal year 2024. When the Governor took office, the fund only held $129 million.
- Reported the highest annual revenue growth rate in 31 years.
- Boosted workforce participation by fostering a stronger and healthier Kentucky through expanded access to health care, including dental, hearing and vision care benefits.
- Issued an executive order to allow Kentuckians with certain chronic and terminal conditions, like veterans with PTSD, to access medical cannabis, which 90% of Kentuckians support.
- Largest public sector investment expanding high-speed internet, with more than $89 million to provide high-speed internet to over 34,000 families. Combined with matching funds pledged by the grant recipients, the total investment for the first round of high-speed internet grants exceeds more $204 million.
- More than $412 million devoted to providing clean drinking water and clean water systems to 3,744 unserved and 80,252 underserved homes. There is more than $87 million still to be allocated from the Cleaner Water Program, and every county will receive funding.