Steve Beshear

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Kentucky businesses will save about $165 million on federal unemployment taxes after state officials paid off a close to a billion dollar federal loan early.  

Gov Steve Beshear says the Commonwealth has paid off the $972 million federal loan needed to meet unemployment insurance benefit obligations during the Great Recession at least two years ahead of schedule.

The early payoff means employers will see a reduction of $105 per employee.   

More Kentuckians are insured, protected from second-hand smoke and making healthier lifestyle choices, according to a recently released preliminary report on Gov. Steve Beshear’s kyhealthnow initiative.

The initiative was created to achieve by 2019 seven major health goals on issues ranging from insurance rates to obesity.

The  Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services  set the goal of reducing the state’s uninsured rate to 5 percent or less. With the implementation of Kynect and the expansion of Medicaid, Kentucky’s uninsured rate is currently 9.8 percent.

Dr. Stephanie Mayfield, the state’s public health commissioner, said she’s optimistic that the goal will be reached.

“If we continue to do what we’re currently doing, we feel that we’ll get there because in a year or so we’ve taken it down to 9.8 percent from a baseline in 2013 of 20.4 percent,” she said.

Although, the proposed smoking ban bill passed the House earlier this year, its future looks grim. And so does the future of the proposed heroin bill.

But, Mayfield said, “the session is not over yet.”

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear will likely leave office next year without making good on one of his campaign pledges. 

Legislative leaders say casino gambling is hardly on anyone’s radar for the 2015 session.  Governor Steve Beshear told WKU Public Radio support appears to be waning even among proponents.

"You've got your tracks that only want it at the tracks.  Some will go further than that, others won't, so they can't agree with each other, much less than anybody else.  It's one of those issues that while a lot of people say they want it, they only want it on their terms."

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer sponsored a measure in 2012 to get a casino amendment on the ballot.  The Georgetown Republican maintains he won't try again.

"I will not be sponsoring another expanded casino gambling bill as long as I'm in the state Senate," states Thayer.  "I sponsored that bill a few years ago and said I would take one shot at it, and I have no plans to sponsor another bill like that in the future."

Tobacco and e-cigarettes will soon be banned from many Kentucky state properties under the executive cabinet. The new policy announced by Governor Beshear  Thursday covers  state buildings, vehicles and other designated locations.

The announcement adds onto previous legislation aimed solely at cigarettes. Beshear said his executive order aims to combat Kentucky’s number one ranking in cancer and smoking deaths.

“You know, this year is the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. Surgeon General’s report alerting Americans to the deadly consequences of smoking. That’s five decades. Five decades of warnings," Beshear said.

"But warnings by themselves, as we know, are not enough.”

Governor Beshear has appointed former state lawmaker Roger Thomas of Warren County to be director of his office's legislative services.

Beshear said Thomas has experience and knowledge of the legislative process that's "second to none." He said Thomas' understanding of the General Assembly will be vital to achieve a successful legislative session next year.

Beshear's office says Thomas will retain his position as Executive Director of the Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy. In that role, Thomas serves as CEO of the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board and Executive Director of the Kentucky Agricultural Finance Corporation.

Thomas was the state representative for Warren County's 21st District from 1996 to 2004.

Beshear Plugs $91 Million Budget Shortfall

Jul 17, 2014

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has signed an order to cover a $91 deficit in the state's $9.5 billion state budget.

State officials announced the shortfall last week following sluggish collections on state income taxes. Beshear's order cuts $3 million in state spending. He made up the rest by transferring money from other sources, including $21.2 million from the state's reserves. State officials said they had few options to make up the deficit because the shortfall came at the end of the fiscal year when most of the money had already been spent.

Beshear's order also dealt with a $22.1 million shortfall in the state's road fund, with just $300,000 in cuts to construction projects.

This was the 14th budget reduction Beshear has implemented since taking office in 2007.

Rae Hodge/Kentucky Public Radio

Gov. Steve Beshear on Monday announced $1.3 million in grants for an initiative  to create jobs in the depressed coal regions of Eastern Kentucky.

The state plans to use $1 million to fund 52 full-time AmeriCorp positions  to shore up "youth engagement, education success and health and human services over the next year," according to a news release from the governor's office. About $312,000 "will support implementation and technical assistance by a consortium of nine Area Development Districts located in the region."

Beyond that, it's unclear how the money will be administered by the 12-member executive committee of the SOAR, or Shaping Our Appalachian Region, initiative.

Beshear, a Democrat, and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, a Republican who represents Eastern Kentucky, unveiled SOAR in December in an attempt to gather ideas for revitalizing the economically devastated coal communities in Eastern Kentucky.

Rae Hodge/Kentucky Public Radio

Congressional inaction threatening the solvency of the Federal Highway Trust Fund may cost Kentucky $185 million for projects, drastically changing how the state pays for road construction, Gov. Steve Beshear said Wednesday.

Beshear and U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who was visiting the state, criticized Congress for  inaction that will reduce the amount the highway trust fund reimburses states for roadwork by 28 percent, affecting upwards of 700,000 jobs nationwide.

"Simply put, if you drive on Kentucky's highways, or if your business depends upon our roads to move your workers, your goods, your supplies or your customers, you will see a negative impact," Beshear said.

Of the $185 million in jeopardy, $150 million will affect the widening of I-65 between Bowling Green and Elizabethtown, a Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesman said. The remaining $35 million is slated for "pavement rehabilitation" projects across the state.

Neither Beshear nor KYTC Secretary Mike Hancock offered a figure of how many road contracting jobs in Kentucky could be affected if Congress doesn't shore up the fund.

Henderson Company Expands, Adds Jobs

May 30, 2013

Gov. Steve Beshear joined local and company officials Wednesday in announcing that Gibbs Die Casting is expanding operations at its world headquarters in Henderson, adding 160 jobs and investing more than $22.8 million.

Gibbs Die Casting, established in 1965 and owned by Koch Enterprises, has grown into one of the world’s largest die casting companies, operating eight factories for aluminum and magnesium casting, machining, assembly and die building with facilities in Hungary, Brazil and China. The Henderson facility currently employs more than 560 people.

The expansion project includes adding new manufacturing lines for eight-speed transmission parts and rear axles for the automotive industry.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo is encouraging Governor Steve Beshear to call a special session for redistricting to help end a federal lawsuit.

Last week several county clerks in Northern Kentucky filed a lawsuit claiming the state's inability to finish redistricting violates federal law.

In response, Stumbo released a letter he has sent to the governor, encouraging Beshear to call a special session soon to pass redistricting maps.

Stumbo says it's pointless to waste money on litigation when House lawmakers have already passed a new redistricting plan. Senate leaders have said they wanted to wait until the 2014 session to pass the maps.

Beshear says he's open to a special session on redistricting, but wants to make sure all parties are ready so costs can be minimized. It costs taxpayers $60,000 a day for a special session.

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