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Gov. Beshear enumerates his accomplishments of administration

He says aggressive job creation efforts and stand against taxes paying off

By Kerri Richardson
News from State of Kentucky's Commonwealth News Center

Frankfort, KY - In his fourth State of the Commonwealth address, Governor Steve Beshear told lawmakers that responsible fiscal management, including holding the line against broad-based taxes and slashing more than $1 billion from the state budget, has enabled Kentucky to preserve core priorities and begin to recover from the global recession. At the same time, tireless and innovative job creation efforts have led to the creation and retention of thousands of jobs in every corner of the state.

"I have opposed broad-based tax increases in Kentucky, and I will continue to oppose them during this legislative session," said Gov. Beshear. "I will not threaten the survival and growth of our businesses at this perilous moment. I will not burden our families as they struggle to survive. And I will not jeopardize our fragile recovery."

Gov. Beshear told Kentuckians that he runs Frankfort like they run their family budgets - by working harder and spending less.

"My message to the people of the state is this: We are in this together - we will share your sacrifice because we work for you," said Gov. Beshear.

Since taking office, Gov. Beshear has:

  • Balanced Kentucky's budget eight times in three years, slashing over a billion dollars in spending.
  • Reduced the executive branch to its smallest size in decades.
  • Cut the so-called non-merit work force by an additional $5 million.
  • Ended take-home cars for his office.
  • Furloughed most state workers for six days, to save $24 million, and is taking six unpaid days himself.
  • Voluntarily cut his salary by 10 percent - as have top staff and cabinet secretaries.
  • Created a website that allows Kentuckians to find out exactly how their money is being spent, which was named the best website of its kind in the nation.
  • Put Kentucky's public pension funds on sound footing, reducing benefits for new employees, eliminating pension double-dipping and mandating appropriate expertise for those making investment decisions.
"We have acted in a calm, strategic and measured way to rein in government with an eye not just on short-term survival, but also on long-term progress," said Gov. Beshear. "And that strategy is working." He offered the following evidence that the economy is beginning to improve:
  • Nearly 250 companies have used Kentucky's new incentives programs to announce planned investments of almost $2.2 billion.
  • More than half of Kentucky's manufacturers plan to hire in 2011.
  • Unemployment rates are down in 84 counties from a year ago.
  • State receipts are up 5.4 percent through the first half of the fiscal year.
  • Kentucky's highways are the safest they've been in 25 years.
  • Kentucky's prison population and recidivism rates are dropping.
  • The state is attracting visitors from around the world to the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and the upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, which alone is estimated to have a $150 million economic impact.
In addition to Kentucky's revamped business incentives programs, Gov. Beshear noted other efforts to create and retain Kentucky jobs, including:
  • Two new initiatives that help smaller businesses export goods overseas and recoup investments in staff and equipment.
  • A unique program that matches federal high-tech grants to attract and groom smaller companies with innovative ideas in fields like biosciences and energy.
  • The realignment of Fort Knox, which will create 7,000 to 8,000 jobs.
  • Efforts to keep healthy a $4 billion equine industry that employs 100,000 Kentuckians.
  • The construction of a national research laboratory that will develop and market advanced battery technologies.
  • Fighting the federal government for the survival of Kentucky's coal industry, which provides 90 percent of our electricity and has helped build a robust manufacturing industry.
"Our coal industry is in jeopardy because Washington bureaucrats continue to try to impose arbitrary and unreasonable regulations on the mining of coal," said Gov. Beshear. "To them I say 'Get off our backs!' I will fight you for the right to cleanly and safely mine coal. I will fight you on behalf of 18,000 Kentucky coal miners who are working to feed their families. And I will fight you to keep this nation strong by supplying it with the energy it needs to remain the beacon of democracy in a troubled world."

Gov. Beshear discussed the following important legislative items for the 2011 legislative session:
  • Increasing high school graduation by raising the drop-out age: House Bill 225, which would raise the mandatory school attendance age to 18 overwhelmingly passed the House last year. HB 225 gradually phases in the change, giving schools adequate time to implement it, and creates alternative programs to address concerns about unmotivated students.
  • Addressing short-term and long-term Medicaid issues: A plan to balance a shortfall in the Medicaid budget would move $166.5 million from the 2012 Fiscal Year Medicaid budget to the current 2011 Fiscal Year. It would also utilize the expertise of the private sector by incorporating more managed-care principles in the state's Medicaid program to run it in a more cost-effective manner. The only alternatives to this plan are to cut $600 million in services or cut reimbursement rates to health care providers by 30 percent, jeopardizing jobs throughout the state.
  • Reducing barriers to Kentucky businesses: Gov. Beshear offered his support to an idea promoted by Republican Sen. David Givens and Senate President David Williams: a one-stop electronic business portal to speed up and simplify how businesses register and interact with the state. The Governor called the bill a good example of finding common ground.
  • Protecting seniors: Gov. Beshear pledged to work with legislators to find ways we can protect vulnerable seniors from physical and financial abuse and exploitation.
"Some of us have different ideas about how to fix Kentucky's problems," said Gov. Beshear. "But that doesn't mean we cannot and should not make life better for our people by identifying areas of agreement and places to collaborate. I am confident we can do that because over the last three years we have done it."

Finally, Gov. Beshear paid tribute to Kentucky's men and women serving in active duty military and the Kentucky National Guard, both overseas and here at home, as well as their families. He noted that the Commonwealth has fielded the largest contingent among the states of soldiers, sailors and airmen in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan, and that over 20 percent of all U.S. forces in the Central Command area came from Fort Campbell and Fort Knox, from the Kentucky Air and Army National Guard, Marine Corps units at Fort Knox and the state's Army and Navy Reserve units. Since 9/11, the Kentucky National Guard has deployed more than 14,000 soldiers and airmen, and this summer, the Guard will deploy its largest contingent since World War II.

"I am awed by the courage, dedication and sacrifice of these soldiers and their families - just as every Kentuckian should be."

This story was posted on 2011-02-02 07:21:28
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