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Beshear to propose ‘historic investments’ for education

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The time is correct for Kentucky to make “historic investments” in education and construct on the state’s financial momentum, profiting from income surpluses, Gov. Andy Beshear stated.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Monday, the Democratic governor previewed a number of the finances proposals he’ll current to the Republican-dominated legislature early subsequent yr.

“You are going to see in our next budget historic investments in education,” Beshear stated in the course of the interview performed over Zoom.

“With one of the healthiest budgets we have ever seen, it’s time to invest,” he added.

Beshear signaled that his education proposals to the legislature will embody a pay increase for educators together with “retention programs” to maintain down instructor turnover in school rooms.

Beshear made help for public faculties the hallmark of his profitable 2019 marketing campaign for governor. Now that he has reached the midpoint of his time period, subsequent yr’s finances work will present one other probability for him to ship on extra of his education coverage objectives earlier than 2023, when he’ll search a second time period in Republican-trending Kentucky.

On the overarching challenge of his time in workplace, Beshear stoutly defended his efficiency in main Kentucky’s battle in opposition to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a results of the state’s virus testing and vaccination efforts, “there’s going to be more people alive … than there otherwise would have been,” he stated.

“I hope people will see that,” the governor stated. “But I made every decision I did because it was the right thing to do, and I’m going to continue to do that. When it’s a matter of life and death — and that’s what this pandemic is — your personal popularity has to take a back seat to the health and safety of your people.”

Kentucky’s dying toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 11,000, and the Bluegrass State is being hit by one other escalation in virus instances, hospitalizations and admissions to intensive care items.

Throughout a lot of the pandemic, the governor acted unilaterally in setting statewide virus insurance policies, saying his restrictions saved lives. Republicans branded his actions as overly broad and stringent and GOP lawmakers handed measures limiting the governor’s emergency powers to impose virus restrictions.

His time period has been marked by coverage clashes with Republican lawmakers, who wielded their supermajority standing to push their priorities into regulation. The governor on Monday stated the state’s policymakers ought to discover frequent floor to capitalize on the state’s alternatives.

“I’m willing to work with anybody who wants to move this state forward,” he stated. “Our job in government, once elected, shouldn’t be trying to move this state to the right or to the left, but just to move it forward. We are sitting at a once-in-a-generation opportunity to push Kentucky forward economically in education, in health care, in ways that we’d always dreamed of. We cannot fumble this opportunity through partisan rancor.”

Education, as ordinary, will obtain appreciable consideration in the course of the finances work. Kentucky’s huge income surplus will probably gasoline much more requests from curiosity teams for state funds. Beshear stated Kentucky additionally has one other $1.1 billion to allocate from the federal pandemic support package deal referred to as the American Rescue Plan.

The governor stated Monday he’ll propose “a record amount of new funds going into education.” Each degree of education — from Ok-12 faculties to post-secondary education — can be focused for “significant” investments beneath his spending plan, he stated.

“This is the way that we break cycles of poverty,” Beshear stated. “This is the way that we attract even bigger and better jobs. This is the way that we change everything here in Kentucky.”

Boosting education is important for Kentucky to attain its financial potential, he stated. Despite the continued pandemic, Beshear’s administration says Kentucky has registered its finest yr for financial improvement development, exceeding $10 billion in private-sector investments — led by the choice by Ford Motor Co. and its battery companion to construct twin battery vegetation in Glendale, Kentucky.

Foreshadowing a possible reelection message, the governor stated the state’s financial features imply youthful Kentuckians are “going to have so many more opportunities moving forward.”

The governor listed efforts to promote financial improvement and agriculture expertise as different priorities in his upcoming finances plan. Other spending proposals will embody supporting human providers and the state’s workforce, he stated.

“Let’s make sure that no seniors go hungry,” he stated. “Let’s make sure that we are taking care of our children in their public safety. You’ll see investments in our state workers.”