Team Kentucky Update includes good economic news, coal severance funds and more
FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 29, 2023) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that his administration has secured a second credit rating increase from a major agency, this time from S&P Global Ratings.
The Governor said the increased confidence in Kentucky’s financial outlook will mean lower costs for taxpayers on the state’s investments in critical infrastructure projects, like roads, bridges and schools. It also means that public employee pensions are more secure.
“This is a fantastic milestone for Team Kentucky as we show everyone that our economy is booming, our pensions are strong and our fiscal house is in order due to strong management and smart choices that put our people first,” said Gov. Beshear. “This rating increase benefits every Kentucky family because it means every taxpayer dollar goes further toward the projects that are making a difference in our communities.”
During the Team Kentucky Update, the Governor also shared good news on economic development; a decrease in property tax rates; coal severance funds returning to coal-producing communities; domestic violence prevention; the largest public investment in high-speed internet; transportation funding; support for the city of Fleming-Neon; upcoming inclement weather; and recovery efforts in Eastern Kentucky. He also named Berea College and Kandie Adkinson as this week’s Team Kentucky All-Stars.
The Governor highlighted two economic development projects that total over $150 million in investment and will create 225 jobs for Kentuckians. He also highlighted funding that will go towards developing land and buildings to boost economic development.
The Governor recognized new growth in Kentucky’s signature bourbon and spirits industry with Eastern Light Distilling, an Eastern Kentucky-based distilling company investing more than $143.7 million in a new venue located in Rowan County, which is expected to create at least 50 new jobs in the area in coming years.
Gov. Beshear announced the continued investment in Kentucky’s food and beverage industry with Bakery Express MidWest, a commercial bakery manufacturing company that supplies its customers with fresh baked goods. The $10 million facility in Boone County will create over 175 full-time jobs in the area.
Gov. Beshear announced over $2.5 million in state funding to develop land and buildings to support economic growth and good-paying jobs across eight sites in 11 counties. Projects in Caldwell, Henderson, Logan, Nicholas, Trigg and Washington counties, as well as a regional project including Caldwell, Crittenden, Livingston, Lyon and Trigg counties, were approved by the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority.
Property Rate Decrease
The Governor announced the commonwealth’s real property tax rate will drop for the third consecutive year on July 1, decreasing to 11.4 cents per $100 of assessed value. Kentucky law requires the Kentucky Department of Revenue to set the real property rate no later than July 1 of each year.
“I’m proud to be the Governor who has now had an opportunity to lower both income and property taxes for our families,” Gov. Beshear said. “This is a special time with a booming economy and the ability to ultimately be able to lower these rates.”
Coal Severance Update
The Governor announced that in Fiscal Year 2023, Kentucky’s coal-producing communities will receive more than $74 million in coal severance tax funds, which marks the most money allocated to these communities in 10 years. This year’s funds nearly double the amount from the 2022 amount of $37,558,202.
Domestic Violence Prevention
Gov. Beshear was joined by Secretary of State Michael Adams to celebrate Senate Bill 79, which becomes law today. The bi-partisan effort creates the Safe at Home Program, which will be administered by the secretary of state. The effort will protect the residential address of survivors of domestic violence and other sexual crimes as well as the addresses of those who reside in the same household as the victim. To gain this protection, the crime victim or the individual residing in the victim’s home needs to apply to the secretary of state’s office to have the address protected.
“We all have a role to play in building a bright and safe future for each other. We must all commit to protecting our fellow Kentuckians and standing with survivors of these heinous acts,” said Gov. Beshear. “We cannot and will not solve this crisis alone. Let’s work together to make a real difference in our homes, our schools and our communities. Let’s lead with the courage that survivors show every day and prove that Kentucky does not tolerate domestic violence.”
“This program allows survivors to have their addresses hidden when registering to vote, without having to get a protective order from a judge. Survivors can also use our State Capitol address as an address of record on other public records. And given how many survivors have to cross state lines to keep safe, we extend reciprocity and allow participants in other states’ programs to easily join our program if they move here with a streamlined application process,” Secretary Adams said. “Not only did Gov. Beshear sign this law, his team has worked closely with my team on implementing this as quickly and effectively as possible. I appreciate that good faith partnership that serves Kentuckians well.”
The Governor also said that he expects the first statewide domestic violence-related report to be released tomorrow, June 30. The report will include data from 2022, with key findings such as the number of arrests made for incidents involving domestic violence and the number of emergency protective orders served by the Kentucky State Police. If you or someone you know need assistance, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-SAFE or visiting kcadv.org.
Largest-Ever Investment in High-Speed Internet
On Monday, Gov. Beshear announced that the state has secured a nearly $1.1 billion federal grant, the largest public investment in high-speed internet in the state’s history, which will bring affordable, reliable high-speed internet service to every Kentuckian. To read more, see the full release.
The Governor announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded $33 million in grants that will go toward the health and safety of Kentucky families. The awards include:
- $21 million to the city of Jackson to stabilize and reinforce Panbowl Lake Dam;
- $8 million to the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government to fix a longstanding problem with a railroad overpass on North Broadway;
- $3.8 million to the city of Bellevue to help plan and design a multimodal transportation corridor along to Ohio River; and
- $600,000 to the Barren River Area Development District to inventory bike and pedestrian facilities in 10 counties and explore the feasibility of an interconnected greenway system.
Federal Transit Authority Grant Funding
Gov. Beshear, a strong supporter of public transit as a transportation lifeline for thousands of Kentuckians, today announced that 10 rural Kentucky transit agencies have been approved for more than $11.5 million in Federal Transit Administration funding.
Upcoming Weather and Eastern Kentucky Flood Update
Gov. Beshear encouraged Kentuckians to remain weather-aware today. Strong storms will move through the western region of the commonwealth but could move east of I-65 later tonight. Heavy rainfall, damaging winds and large hail are expected.
The Governor also warned Kentuckians of rising temperatures across the state. Index values are expected to range from 104 to 115 degrees on top of air quality concerns due to fires in Canada.
Gov. Beshear also provided an update on recovery and rebuilding efforts in Eastern Kentucky. Currently, 83 families are housed in travel trailers, and 299 households have transitioned out of the Commonwealth Sheltering Program. As of this week, FEMA has awarded over $38 million in awards for the buy-out program.
Fleming-Neon Request for Bids
The Governor also announced that he has posted a request for bids for a multi-million-dollar project in the city of Fleming-Neon in Letcher County to stabilize hillsides where historic mine drainage threatens homes, a road and a city park. The commonwealth has developed a plan to stabilize the areas and redirect drainage by installing a series of steel-reinforced concrete retaining walls.
The site visit for interested contractors will be July 13, and bids will be open July 28. The funding for this project comes through the Abandoned Mine Lands funds. To date, Kentucky has awarded more than $21 million in these funds to support communities.
Team Kentucky All-Stars
The Governor named Berea College as one of this week’s Team Kentucky All-Stars. Berea College was named one of Money’s Best Colleges in America for 2023 and was the only Kentucky school to receive a 5-star rating.
“Berea College is a really special school, giving students the opportunity to do a work-study program versus paying tuition,” said Gov. Beshear. “It’s a top-ranking liberal arts school that empowers students and enriches the entire Berea community.”
Gov. Beshear also named Kandie Adkinson, who announced her retirement after working in state government for 45 years, as this week’s Team Kentucky All-Star. Kandie’s current role is within the Secretary of State’s office. Kandie also stood in the Capitol Rotunda at 10 a.m. throughout the pandemic to honor Kentucky lives lost by ringing a bell 120 times, once for each county.
“Kandie, thank you for your service. And thank you for honoring your fellow Kentuckians. You truly are a Team Kentucky All-Star,” said Gov. Beshear. “Congratulations on your retirement, and best of luck in this next chapter.”