In his State of the Commonwealth address — delayed by last week's insurrection at the U.S. Capitol — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear pledged to provide relief to the state' struggling small businesses and to those who've lost jobs amid the pandemic.
Rep. Joni Jenkins (D-Shively), the House Minority Leader, said there are brighter days ahead for Kentuckians in 2021, with the governor's proposal of $220 million in direct aid to small businesses, $20 million for small nonprofits, and around $100 million to repay the federal loan to Kentucky's unemployment insurance trust fund.
"The funding in the budget and the way he is spending that funding brings me lots of hope for bringing individuals and businesses back," Jenkins remarked.
The governor said he's also authorizing $48 million in CARES Act funding to individuals who waited too long to receive unemployment benefits and to help those who missed out on the federal government's Lost Wages Assistance Program because they made too little.
Jenkins also praised Beshear's proposed $50 million dollars toward expanding broadband access in the Commonwealth; the first time state dollars would go toward boosting household internet connectivity.
She pointed out in the COVID-19 era, high-speed internet has become essential.
"We used to think of that as a business issue, but we've known it's a health issue," Jenkins contended. "Because telehealth has been used much this last year, and we also know that it's an educational issue, as well as hope for our businesses."
Additionally, Beshear announced a $1,000 salary increase for teachers in fiscal year 2022 and a $100 million dollar cash infusion to school facilities.
He also called for the legalization of medical marijuana, passing online sports betting and preserving historic horse racing.