OP-ED: Gov. Beshear: Largest Budget Surplus in History Adds to Kentucky’s Booming Economy

For months now, Kentucky’s economy has been heating up and we have seen a slew of positive economic development and new jobs announcements.

Last week, that heat grew hotter when the state budget office reported we are ending the 2021 fiscal year in the best shape of my lifetime, with a general fund surplus of over $1.1 billion – the highest ever in the commonwealth – and a 10.9% increase in general fund receipts, to $12.8 billion.

This surplus is three times larger than we’ve ever seen. Our rainy-day fund is growing to almost $2 billion – also a record.

We’ve set other records: the largest increase in sales tax since 1990 and the largest growth in our general fund in 26 years. These are indicators that people are out and spending, that our economy is open and revenue is coming in.

Make no mistake, these results are the rewards of strong fiscal management, hard work and making tough decisions throughout the pandemic – decisions that always put the health and safety of our people first. Kentuckians came together over and over to keep each other safe.

While some other states saw repeated devastation and disruption throughout 2020, in Kentucky, we stopped three separate, dangerous surges in cases that threatened to overwhelm our hospitals and lead to many, many more deaths. We know that our actions saved thousands, likely tens of thousands, of lives. I’ve never felt more pride in our commonwealth and our people than knowing how we did this for one another.

More than 16 months of distressing COVID-19 losses and difficult sacrifices are now rapidly yielding to a new dawn of limitless possibilities in Kentucky and across the nation. The safe and effective vaccines – modern medical miracles – have broken the pandemic’s awful hold on our lives and livelihoods, and now we are seeing that protecting our people has also protected our economy. 

We are poised as never before to charge ahead, and right now our economy is recovering faster than anyone could have expected.

Each week, we are announcing more jobs, with companies expanding or locating new facilities here. Before the end of the month, we will make major economic development announcements in at least three different regions of the state. Since January, companies have announced more than 50 projects totaling more than $2 billion in new investments and creating more than 4,000 full-time jobs.

Just a few recent examples include:

  • Fruehauf, a semi-trailer manufacturer creating 288 jobs in Bowling Green;
  • Corrugated box manufacturer Kruger Packaging announcing it is locating in Elizabethtown, where they will hire more than 150 Kentuckians;
  • Copper and copper alloy producer Wieland North America locating its North American headquarters in Louisville creating 75 jobs and locating a recycling facility in Shelby County – another 75 jobs;
  • Firestone Industrial Products expanding in Whitley County for another 250 jobs while positioning the company to serve the growing electric vehicle market;
  • Ahlstrom-Munksjo, manufacturer of glass fiber-based materials, locating its second facility in Madisonville adding 51 jobs;
  • Nucor Tubular Products building a tube mill in Gallatin County that will employ 72 people; and,
  • Aluminum products producer Matalco will hire 60 people at its first Kentucky facility in Franklin.

And through a bipartisan agreement at the close of the 2021 General Assembly, we created the Better Kentucky Plan. This plan allows us to invest federal relief funds in infrastructure and create 14,500 jobs that will soon employ Kentuckians who will help us build better schools, expand internet access and deliver clean drinking water and quality sewer systems across Kentucky.

Others are noticing what is happening in Kentucky and saying good things.

Fitch Ratings – one of the nation’s Big 3 credit rating agencies – upgraded its financial outlook on our state to stable, reflecting the commonwealth’s solid economic recovery and fiscal management. Moody’s Analytics recently published a positive report on Kentucky, noting an economy recovering with “gusto.”

As we sprint out of this pandemic, we are going to make sure our surging economy reaches every part of Kentucky, and most importantly that it benefits each and every one of our families.

Let’s replace this pandemic with promise and opportunity and build that better Kentucky we all want.

Buckle up Team Kentucky; we are going great places, together. — Gov. Andy Beshear