FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 15, 2022) – Gov. Andy Beshear updated Kentuckians on higher-than-expected budget surplus projections; bourbon and spirits industry growth; today’s Kentucky Supreme Court ruling; the First Lady’s toy drive; disaster recovery and rebuilding efforts in Eastern Kentucky; grants to fight sexual assault and violence; efforts to protect youth offenders and juvenile justice staff; and public health. He also named GE Appliances this week’s Team Kentucky All-Stars.
Yesterday, the state’s Consensus Forecasting Group (CFG), a group of financial experts, revised the state General Fund revenue estimates upward by $1.4 billion in the current fiscal year and by $1.3 billion in fiscal year 2024. The estimates yield total revenues of $15.2 billion this fiscal year and $15.5 billion next fiscal year. These are expected to be the four largest budget surpluses in the commonwealth’s history and will bring the state’s rainy day fund up to over $3 billion at the end of fiscal year 2023 and nearly $4 billion at the end of fiscal year 2024. These figures also represent growth rates of 3.4% for the 2023 fiscal year and 1.7% for fiscal year 2024.
Executive Cabinet Secretary and State Budget Director John Hicks said that these positive numbers result from economic improvement of households and businesses, as well as recent strong revenue trends, and increased forecasts in individual income taxes, sales taxes and business taxes.
“One area of the economic assumptions highlighted in the CFG’s deliberations is that manufacturing employment in Kentucky will do better than the Unites States as a whole. And that data does not incorporate the manufacturing announcements like the Ford/BlueOval SK battery plants,” Secretary Hicks said.
Economic Development Update
Today, Gov. Beshear announced that in 2022, Kentucky recorded its best year for growth of its signature bourbon and spirits industry, with over $2.1 billion in new investments and approximately 700 new jobs for Kentucky residents.
The Governor celebrated the industry’s continued success Thursday, as he will join state officials and leaders at Buffalo Trace Distillery to fill the company’s 8 millionth barrel of Kentucky bourbon since Prohibition. The event caps what has been a monumental year for the Kentucky bourbon and spirits industry, including the sector’s largest investment in state history, announced in October, and new-location and expansion projects throughout the state.
“More than ever, bourbon is booming in the Bluegrass, and this industry’s explosive growth will only continue in the months and years ahead as demand for products made in Kentucky continues to rise around the world,” said Gov. Beshear.
Kentucky Supreme Court School Choice Decision
In a unanimous decision, the Kentucky Supreme Court today ruled that the school choice program passed by the General Assembly that would have provided dollar-for-dollar tax credits to those who donated money to private or charter schools in Kentucky is unconstitutional.
“This issue ought to be done. We can’t send public dollars directly or indirectly to private or charter schools, nor should anyone try. The answer is to work together to improve our public school system,” said Gov. Beshear. “Let’s provide funding, let’s provide that raise so that we can get enough teachers in the classroom and let’s invest in technology and social and emotional learning the way we need to.”
Eastern Kentucky Christmas Toy Drive Update
The Governor said that, thanks to the generosity of Kentuckians across the commonwealth, First Lady Britainy Beshear has collected thousands of toys once again to help kids who may have lost everything, including all of their toys.
Gov. Beshear thanked toy drive partners, including Kentucky State Parks, Amazon, UPS, Kroger, University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, Murray State University, Morehead State University, Northern Kentucky University, Kentucky State University and Bellarmine University.
While the deadline for mail-in donations has passed, Kentuckians have two more opportunities to give in person. To learn more, visit FirstLady.ky.gov/ToyDrive.
“Once again, I want to thank everyone who has donated. You have shown the true spirit of Christmas and of Team Kentucky,” Gov. Beshear said. “Your gift is going to bring smiles and joy to the kids who need it most right now.”
Eastern Kentucky Flood Update
Gov. Beshear provided an update on Eastern Kentucky’s stabilization and rebuilding efforts following July’s historic floods. More than $183.3 million in grants have been approved under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for individual and household assistance, housing grants and other needs. Over $56.6 million has been approved under the U.S. Small Business Administration. If you need help, please call FEMA directly or visit a Multi-Agency Resource Center. Although Disaster Recovery Centers have closed, seven Multi-Agency Resource Centers are available for face-to-face help. Visit governor.ky.gov/FloodResources for more information.
Roadside debris collection has concluded. Residents with debris that could not be moved to the roadside should contact their county fiscal court for information on what assistance is available. Waterway debris removal continues. The Natural Resources Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture oversees a different phase of waterway work that focuses on removing sediment and stabilizing stream banks. Residents will see activity from that effort in the new year.
The Governor said that Kentucky State Parks are now housing 84 people, down from the 360 people sheltered on Sept. 1. Currently, 265 households are being housed in travel trailers. There are 325 travel trailers on site in 10 different locations. Kentucky State Parks employees continue to work with local and state emergency management officials to actively transition affected families into travel trailers and long-term housing solutions.
To date, the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund has raised over $12.6 million from more than 41,000 donors. The Governor thanked several organizations and businesses that donated this week:
- Arby’s donated $110,789.52;
- The Kentucky Rising Fund donated $100,000;
- Amazon announced a $25,000 donation; and
- J&H Outdoors raised $10,000 for the fund.
Juvenile Justice Changes to Separate Violent Youth Offenders, Protect Staff
Today, the Governor outlined a new system where the Department of Juvenile Justice will operate three high-security detention centers for male juveniles ages 14 and older charged with offenses indicating a higher potential for violent, disruptive behavior.
Grants to Fight Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Stalking and Dating Violence
Today, Gov. Beshear announced more than $2 million in funding from the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Services, Training, Officers, Prosecution (STOP) Formula Grant Program to 33 agencies to stop sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking as well as to enhance victim services.
Gov. Beshear also updated Kentuckians on influenza, RSV and COVID-19 in the commonwealth. He said that the spread of influenza continues to increase in Kentucky. Twenty-seven influenza deaths have been reported for Kentucky’s current 2022-2023 influenza season. Most influenza detections in the commonwealth have been identified as Type A. The flu vaccine has been updated this year and is expected to perform well against this circulating strain.
RSV activity appears to be declining but is still causing outbreaks in Kentucky day cares and preschools. People of any age can become infected with RSV, and most recover within one to two weeks. RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults.
The Governor said that the most recent COVID-19 data shows that the virus appears to be increasing following Thanksgiving. He encouraged those who are eligible to get their COVID-19 vaccine booster.
Team Kentucky All-Stars
Gov. Beshear named GE Appliances, a Haier Co., as this week’s Team Kentucky All-Stars after the company announced it was investing $1 billion on minority-owned suppliers, with an importance placed on local suppliers. GE Appliances has invested over $2 billion and created 4,600 jobs for Kentuckians.
“GE Appliances has been a strong and growing member of Team Kentucky, providing the world with top-tier home appliances and hundreds of Kentuckians with well-paying jobs,” said Gov. Beshear. “The company’s commitment to our state and our workforce is truly extraordinary, and I am happy to declare them this week’s Team Kentucky All-Stars!”