Governor Beshear

Beshear: State of the Commonwealth Is Good and Getting Better

Jan 8, 2015

Democratic Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear addressed the state's General Assembly to present his nearly hour-long annual State of the Commonwealth speech. 

The address was Beshear's final as Kentucky Governor. In it, Beshear celebrated many of his major policy accomplishments he's seen during his tenure in the state's executive branch, and called on lawmakers to continue moving the 2015 session toward job-creation initiatives.

The over-riding theme of the evening was Beshear's advocacy for workforce development in Kentucky, and the four ways he says he's strengthened it: early childhood development, education reform, affordable healthcare, and low taxes.

Flickr/Creative Commons

In an effort to improve job growth for existing and new employers across the state, the state of Kentucky is making workforce services available in one centralized location.  

Governor Steve Beshear laid out the details of the ‘WorkSmart Kentucky’ initiative Monday. The program involves matching employers with available workforce resources.

“Qualifying companies within the Commonwealth will be eligible for recruitment and job screening services at no cost. In addition, flexible grant funding will be available to offset the cost of customized and in house training needs,” said Beshear.

WorkSmart Kentucky is a partnership of the state’s Economic Development, Workforce Development, and Labor Cabinets along with the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. The governor says the new program fits in well with the state’s emphasis on health care and educational improvements.

Kevin Willis

A Daviess County lawmaker believes one of the few bright spots in Tuesday's budget address by Governor Beshear could be restored funding for primary education.

Democratic Representative Tommy Thompson told WKU Public Radio he's hoping the governor will announce a boost for the statewide education funding formula known as SEEK, or "Support Education Excellence in Kentucky".

"It's really being funded at the 2009 level," Rep. Thompson said. "And then the strands of education--things like professional development and afterschool services and I.T. Those things have been dramatically cut some 30 to 40 percent over the last four or five years."

Thompson thinks there is also a chance the governor will announce funding for some capital projects around the state.

"Technology buildings, science buildings, education buildings--those types of things that are about reinvesting in communities that not only provide construction jobs, but also provide opportunities for workforce training and skill development," the Philpot Democrat said.

Gov. Steve Beshear says he's a fan of Instant Racing for Kentucky's horse racing tracks—but he's not sure if legalizing the gambling format would be used to fund the state's struggling pension system.

Meanwhile, Beshear said casino gambling is not happening this year.

House Democratic leaders says they are looking at legalizing the slots-like game statewide to help generate at least $25 million a year to help fully fund pension obligations. Only two tracks, Ellis Park and Kentucky Downs, currently have the game.

Beshear did not commit fully to the idea, but said he will not allow lawmakers to ask for budget cuts in 2014 to help pay for pensions.

David Williams' tenure as president of the Kentucky State Senate -- and political adversary to Gov. Steve Beshear -- may soon end. Williams is among three nominees selected Thursday by the Judicial Nominating Commission for the open 40th Circuirt Court judgeship, and he said he'd take the job if chosen.