FRANKFORT, Ky. (Oct. 3, 2023) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear unveiled his “Better Kentucky” infrastructure plan that funds projects providing clean drinking water, high-speed internet, education and affordable housing to more families and supports business growth by improving roads and bridges, investing in site development and attracting new talent.
With record-breaking economic growth, a historic budget surplus and the largest Rainy Day Fund in state history, Gov. Beshear said the state can – and should – make these key investments. The Governor will present his 2024-2026 biennial budget plan to the General Assembly when they convene in January 2024.
“Kentucky’s economy is red-hot. We are attracting the jobs of the future and getting major infrastructure projects done,” Gov. Beshear said. “To capitalize on this exciting momentum, we must invest in infrastructure projects that help us continue to build that better Kentucky we all want – one where all our families can prosper and secure a good paying job.”
Providing More Cleaner Water
Through a bipartisan agreement between the Governor and General Assembly, the state’s existing Cleaner Water Program, which provides unserved families and businesses access to cleaner water and wastewater systems, has been allocated $500 million in one-time federal funds since 2021. The Governor is now proposing to continue this work by providing the program with an additional $500 million in state funds over two years. If the cleaner water funding is passed into law, it will be the largest amount ever approved in a two-year budget. The investment is expected to create new construction jobs and provide cleaner water to more families and businesses across the commonwealth.
Expanding High-Speed Internet
Gov. Beshear also has made high-speed internet expansion a priority, with the goal of ensuring all Kentucky families and businesses have access. In June, Gov. Beshear 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. Now, the Governor is asking the General Assembly to approve these funds for distribution through the Office of Broadband Development, which will use an application process to fund unserved locations. To date, the administration has secured what should be more than $2 billion in federal and matching funds that will be used to connect every family and business to high-speed internet.
New Career and Technical Education Centers
With $100 million over the two-year budget period, the Governor is proposing to fund the building and renovation of more of the state’s career and technical education centers. If approved, this funding would build on the $245 million in grant funding the Governor and the General Assembly provided over the last two budgets to support 33 schools across the commonwealth. Just last week, the Governor was in Pike County to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new Millard Area Vocational Center. With the commonwealth attracting world-class companies creating record numbers of jobs – especially in advanced manufacturing and the jobs of the future – supporting a world-class workforce is a necessity.
Increasing Affordable Housing
Gov. Beshear is recommending $10 million from the General Fund over two years to the Housing Corporation’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund so the organization can provide more affordable housing to qualifying Kentuckians. This would be the first investment of general funds in this program in almost 20 years.
Getting Major Infrastructure Projects Done
Upon taking office, the Governor made a promise to complete major projects that have been talked about for decades. He made good on that promise by securing enough federal funds to build the Brent Spence Companion Bridge without tolls. The Governor has also announced the final stage to building four lanes along the entire Mountain Parkway and has helped break ground on the first phase of the I-69 interstate project. In his two-year budget proposal, the Governor is providing $200 million to continue and speed up the construction of the Mountain Parkway and the I-69 interstate project.
The Governor is also proposing $50 million in grant funds for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to administer repairs to city and county bridges across the state. This funding builds on the more than $101 million in discretionary funds the administration has provided across all 120 counties to repair our most in-need roads and bridges and to support local governments in connecting neighborhoods. Another $197 million in Highway Safety Improvement Project funds has also been provided to support 235 road safety projects, many of those focused on safety improvements around our schools.
Developing More Build-Ready Sites
The Governor knows first-hand that build-ready sites are the key to ensuring Kentucky communities are ready to land the next big economic development project. To do this, the state has developed mega-sites like the one in Glendale, which resulted in Gov. Beshear securing the state’s largest-ever economic development project with Ford Motor Co. and SK On. The $5.8 billion investment will create 5,000 jobs in Hardin County and help solidify Kentucky as the EV battery production capital of the United States.
To date, the Governor has worked with lawmakers to dedicate $100 million to site development through the Kentucky Product Development Initiative (KPDI). Just last week, the Governor announced program funding to boost economic growth and quality jobs across two sites in Daviess and Martin counties. Earlier this year, the Governor also announced funding to upgrade a site in Graves County’s Hickory Industrial Park, which is helping rebuilding efforts following the tornadoes that greatly impacted Mayfield. To date, 47 counties have received funding to develop more build-ready sites, and a second round of funding is on its way.
In his next budget, the Governor proposes $200 million over two years for the KDPI: $100 million to prepare mega-development projects and another $100 million for county and regional site development.
To encourage innovation, Gov. Beshear is working with regional chambers of commerce to launch a talent attraction campaign. He is calling for $15 million in year one of his budget to help the state build a globally competitive talent development system. The funds will be spent over two years and will support a national marketing campaign and funding for regional, targeted campaigns to recruit and retain top talent in Kentucky.
Today’s announcement marks the third budget proposal the Governor has unveiled ahead of the 2024 Regular Session of the General Assembly.
In August, he outlined his “Education First” budget plan, which provides an 11% pay raise for teachers and all school personnel – the largest single pay raise for public school educators in 40 years – and fully funds universal pre-K. The plan also fully funds teacher pensions and student transportation; ensures no health insurance premium increase for educators; provides teachers student loan forgiveness; supports professional development; funds textbooks; boosts mental health services and will help build new career and technical education centers.
Also in August, Gov. Beshear outlined his plans to aid law enforcement officers and boost public safety. His public safety budget plan includes moving all statewide law enforcement officers back to defined pension benefits; boosting salaries for Kentucky State Police again; boosting local law enforcement officers’ training stipend to an all-time high; making part-time local law enforcement officers eligible for the training stipend and providing grant funding to upgrade body armor.