FRANKFORT, Ky. — Governor Andy Beshear used his first State of the Commonwealth Address to focus on coming together while focusing on his core issues.
Beshear used his nearly 30-minute speech to set the tone for the coming year and what will likely be a tough budget session.
“We are all here, together tonight, on Team Kentucky,” he began his speech with. “And because of that, I am proud to report to you tonight that the state of our commonwealth is strong, coming together, and ready to face our challenges.
We are all here, together, with an opportunity to fulfill the promise that is Kentucky.”
Beshear touched on his core issue, public education right off the bat, urging lawmakers to come together to support investing more public schools and push his education first budget.
“It’s time to come together, all of us, in support of public education. This is a new opportunity, a new start with a new governor, where we can all pledge to lift up our communities by supporting and investing in our public schools,” Beshear said. “We can wipe the slate clean, and we can move forward in support of public education together. Investing in our public schools means investing in our teachers. These teachers deserve a raise.”
Beshear also used his speech to discuss the importance of health care, combatting the opioid epidemic and uplifting all of Kentucky children while urging the Republican-led legislature to break with party lines and work with him on policies that go against the traditional conservative values.
“It may be help going to see a doctor through K-CHIP, the children’s health care program, or expanded Medicaid. It may be the meals provided in public school or the coat provided by FRYSCKy – our Family Resource and Youth Services Centers. It may be stepping in to stop abuse and neglect,” Beshear said. “Right here and right now, we have a can’t-miss opportunity to make major, widespread progress. So we have to take on the big challenges, not do what is politically safe.”
The need to increase wages and close the pay gap between men and women and reform the criminal justice system was also touched on, but Beshear did not offer any specific policies he would like to see done to achieve those goals.
Areas were he did call on lawmakers to pass specific legislation were in healthcare, where he urged lawmakers to pass a law ensuring no one can lose health care coverage as a result of a preexisting condition and legislation to cap the increasing cost of insulin.
Beshear spent time setting up what will likely be in his budget address on January 28th before ending the speech urging a partnership.
“It is how we move forward. I know we have more in common than what divides us. I know that we can do what are entrusted here to do: deliver results for Kentuckians,” he said.