FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 16, 2023) – Gov. Andy Beshear has updated Kentuckians on economic development projects; general fund growth; the Brent Spence Bridge project; inclement weather; rebuilding and recovery efforts in Eastern Kentucky; orphan well plugging; and public health. He also named singer Chris Stapleton this week’s Team Kentucky All-Star.
On Tuesday, Gov. Beshear joined leaders from Wilde Brands Inc. – a producer of high-protein, low-carb snack chips made from all-natural chicken breast, egg whites and bone broth – for a flag-raising ceremony at their new Winchester facility.
In September 2020, Wilde Brands announced plans for a $9.78 million, 50-job production and distribution facility in Clark County. Due to the company’s rapid growth, it now employs 100 workers and plans to hire an additional 50 in the coming months.
“I want to thank Wilde Brands CEO Jason Wright for continuing to expand the company’s presence here in the commonwealth and contributing to Kentucky’s thriving food and beverage industry, which employs over 57,000 Kentuckians,” said Gov. Beshear.
General Fund Growth
Gov. Beshear said Kentucky’s economic momentum continues, as State Budget Director John Hicks reported revenues for January were $1.2 billion, which is $75.1 million more than was collected in January 2022, making it the best January in terms of state revenue in Kentucky’s history. Revenues have grown 7.6 % through the first seven months of fiscal year 2023. The increase shows that Kentucky continues to have strong business and job growth and that Kentuckians are confident in the economy.
The Governor also noted that increases in both wages and employment have positioned Kentucky’s revenue collections to despite the income tax rate reduction. January’s sales tax collections of $553.2 million set an all-time monthly record and were 7% higher than the previous monthly high. Individual income tax collections grew 2.1 % for the month as increases in withholding and net returns offset a decline in estimated payments.
“We are in the midst of the best economic roll that Kentucky has ever been on,” Gov. Beshear said. “We are breaking every record on the books, and it hasn’t even been close. The best part is that with the creation of 43,000 full-time jobs during this administration, more Kentuckians have good-paying jobs to provide for their families than ever before.”
Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project
Gov. Beshear shared more good news regarding the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor project in Northern Kentucky. The Governor said that the state is close to issuing a Request for Proposals, which is an invitation to engineering and construction companies to apply and compete for the contract to design and build the bridge. A design-build team will be selected by this summer and is expected to break ground before the end of the year.
“We are getting this project done as fast as we can,” said Gov. Beshear. “It is going to bring good construction jobs and ultimately boost the economy of the entire region as we expand one of the nation’s most crucial freight corridors.”
The Governor said severe weather is moving across the commonwealth today, and it is expected to continue through this evening. This morning, Kentucky experienced heavy rain and thunderstorms. This afternoon, the state is expected to get damaging winds ahead of a cold front, with a possibility of hail and tornadoes. Southeastern Kentucky continues to be under a flood watch.
Gov. Beshear said that he is working closely with the National Weather Service and Kentucky Emergency Management for the most up-to-date information. He encouraged Kentuckians to stay alert and listen to local weather.
Eastern Kentucky Flood Update
Gov. Beshear provided an update on Eastern Kentucky’s recovery and rebuilding efforts.
Currently, 222 families are housed in travel trailers. Kentucky State Parks are now housing 20 people, down from the 360 people sheltered on Sept. 1, 2022.
If flood victims need help, they should call FEMA directly or visit a Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARCs). Beginning Feb. 20, MARCs will go to a rotating schedule. This will consist of two onsite personnel and one remote support person as needed. The staff will rotate from county to county each day. Visit governor.ky.gov/FloodResources for more information.
The Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund has raised over $13.1 million from more than 41,500 donors. To contribute, click here.
EKSAFE Fund Awards
Today, the Governor announced over $6.5 million in awards from the Eastern Kentucky SAFE Fund. Today’s awards include:
- $18,326 to Jackson Energy Cooperative to fund a FEMA match;
- $400,000 to Letcher County Fiscal Court to help ease the fiscal strain of FEMA ineligible reimbursement; and
- More than $6 million to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to fund a FEMA match.
Orphan Well Plugging
As part of his Better Kentucky Plan’s Stronger Communities Program, Gov. Beshear previously announced a $25 million grant to plug orphan oil and gas wells across the commonwealth. To date, 354 wells have already been capped in 14 counties. Over 40 contracts have been signed to plug a total of 638 wells. Of the 22 states that received money to plug wells, seven have begun plugging. Kentucky is reporting the highest number of wells plugged under the initial grant. This well capping has created up to 90 jobs and has the potential to create 30 more.
Influenza activity continues to decline in Kentucky. In some years, influenza has had a second surge, so Kentuckians should still take precautions. Vaccination against the flu is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older. Locations and appointments can be found on vaccines.gov.
COVID-19 remains stable in Kentucky. The Governor continues to recommend that individuals who have not received the bivalent booster be vaccinated to lower their risk of developing severe disease from COVID-19.
Team Kentucky All-Star
Gov. Beshear named Chris Stapleton, who performed the national anthem before the Super Bowl, as this week’s Team Kentucky All-Star. The Governor also thanked the singer for his help following the floods in Eastern Kentucky.
“From his music to his on-site support of his neighbors after July’s devastating flooding, Chris is always representing our commonwealth in the best way,” said Gov. Beshear. “That’s why this week I am proud to name Chris Stapleton as our Team Kentucky All-star. Chris, thanks for making all of us proud!”