FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 9, 2023) –Gov. Andy Beshear, First Lady Britainy Beshear, Kentucky Emergency Management Director Jeremy Slinker and Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander attended the Team Kentucky update to inform Kentuckians on economic development success; the state’s lowest annual unemployment rate; recent inclement weather and rebuilding efforts in Eastern Kentucky; Medicaid renewals; services for seniors; foster care and the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The Governor and First Lady also named school social workers as this week’s Team Kentucky All-Stars.
Gov. Beshear shared good economic development news happening in the commonwealth.
On Monday, the Governor announced a new “Supply Kentucky” initiative to boost job growth, reduce costs and provide more security in Kentucky companies’ supply chains. Supply Kentucky started as a partnership with the Cabinet for Economic Development and the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers to launch CONNEX Kentucky, a new online platform that provides a searchable supply chain database for Kentucky manufacturers.
Yesterday, Gov. Beshear said the first round of up to $34 million in state funds is one step closer to being distributed for the development of land and buildings in local communities to support new, good-paying jobs and economic growth across Kentucky. There are 54 site and building development projects moving forward in the initial round of the Kentucky Product Development Initiative.
General Fund Growth and Lowest Unemployment Rate
The Governor announced that February’s General Fund receipts rose 11.4% compared to February of last year. Collections for the month were over $1 billion, the largest February receipt total on record.
On Monday, the Governor announced that Kentucky set the lowest annual unemployment rate in state history in 2022 at 3.9%. This is the lowest rate seen since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began reporting state unemployment rates in 1976. Click here to read the full report.
“These statistics are just the latest numbers proving that Kentucky is an economic powerhouse and that we are creating good-paying jobs for our families,” said Gov. Beshear. “We are in the midst of the best economic roll that Kentucky has ever been on.”
Recent Inclement Weather
Last Friday, March 3, Gov. Beshear declared a State of State of Emergency after meeting with leadership from the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management, the National Weather Service and the Kentucky National Guard. To date, there are 69 counties and 27 cities that have declared local states of emergency for their communities. Joint damage assessments are being conducted across the commonwealth by state representatives, impacted communities and FEMA.
“These storms claimed the lives of five Kentucky loved ones, neighbors and friends,” Director Slinker said. “We mourn with their families today, acknowledging that no amount of disasters we experience as a commonwealth will ever prepare our hearts for the loss of one Kentuckian.”
On Sunday, Gov. Beshear visited the city of Freemont, in McCracken County, where an EF-2 tornado tore through the town, destroying homes and causing property damage. No Freemont resident lost their life during that event.
“This is a miracle and should remind us all to take warnings seriously and have an emergency plan in place for potential severe weather,” Gov. Beshear said.
As of Thursday morning, there were 3,308 power outages in Kentucky, down from around 475,000 reported on March 4. Utility companies are continuing their work to restore power to all those affected.
Eastern Kentucky Flood Update
Director Slinker provided an update on Eastern Kentucky’s rebuilding efforts.
Currently, 195 families are housed in travel trailers, and Kentucky State Parks are now housing 18 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. The centers are on a rotating schedule, which consists 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.
Rebuilding Homes in Eastern Kentucky
Last week, Gov. Beshear joined an Eastern Kentucky family to break ground on the first home to be partially funded by the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund. The Governor also recently announced that the state has secured land for two high-ground communities, Olive Branch in Knott County and Skyview in Perry County, with additional properties actively being considered. The vision for these properties includes high-ground homes, vibrant communities with modern amenities, mixed-use residential options and civic and community facilities.
To help bring this vision to life, Gov. Beshear released a new Request for Proposal (RFP) for Program Management expertise. The successful bidder will execute the design, engineer and construct infrastructure as well as coordinate with the commonwealth, Team Eastern Kentucky Relief Fund, the Kentucky Housing Corporation and nonprofit home builders to begin home construction.
Proposals from interested parties are due by March 24 at 3:30 p.m. EST. The deadline for written questions is at noon tomorrow, March 10. To learn more about this RFP, visit the Finance and Administration Cabinet’s website or click here.
Federal Medicaid Renewal Coming Soon
Secretary Friedlander joined Gov. Beshear to remind Kentuckians that the federal pandemic benefit that made it easier for low-income families to sign up for free health care is changing. Starting this year, Medicaid enrollees must once again participate in an annual renewal to determine eligibility for Medicaid. To learn more, see the full release or click here.
“When the public health emergency expires, things will revert back to the processes in place prior to March 2020,” said Secretary Friedlander. “Thousands of Kentuckians will be impacted by this and will need to take action. People are on standby to help walk you through the renewal.”
Services for Seniors
Secretary Friedlander said the meal program for seniors, led by the Department for Aging and Independent Living (DAIL), has served nearly 10 million meals since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“March is National Nutrition Month, and as we all know, it marks the three-year anniversary of the first case of COVID-19 in Kentucky,” said Secretary Friedlander. “Over the course of three years, DAIL and community partners have served meals to seniors at an unprecedented rate.”
Secretary Friedlander also highlighted the Programs of All-Inclusive Services for the Elderly, or PACE, operated by the Department for Medicaid Services and DAIL. The program enables older Kentuckians to access health care services, allowing them to continue living in their home.
“The implementation of this program is still in the early stages, but the interest continues to build. This program is taking tremendous steps forward, and it expands options for individuals who want to age in their home,” said Secretary Friedlander. “Thank you to every Kentuckian who supports or cares for our seniors. Let’s continue to work together and be a neighbor helping a neighbor.”
Foster Care Update
Secretary Friedlander also announced that the number of children in foster care has decreased to less than 8,500 after peaking in 2020 at over 10,000 children. Kentucky is among other states experiencing the most significant drop in children in foster care due to focused efforts.
In 2020, Kentucky became the fifth state to implement the Family First Prevention Services Act. Family First Prevention Services include Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Teams, the Family Preservation and Reunification Program, the Kentucky Strengthening Ties and Empowering Parents program, Multisystemic Therapy Prevention Pilots and the Intercept Prevention Pilot.
The Family Preservation and Reunification Services program alone has seen a 94% success rate in keeping children in their homes. These prevention efforts are also saving the state and taxpayers money. Since 2019, the Department for Community Based Services has invested $11.4 million in prevention. Costs for out-of-home care have been reduced by $79.1 million.
“There has never been a more critical time to address the welfare of our children. Our child welfare approach is helping to ensure prioritizing keeping families safely together,” said Secretary Friedlander. “In spite of strides made, patterns persist, proving there is still work ahead of us. This administration is committed to identifying and addressing the drivers that create these disproportionalities.”
Affordable Connectivity Program
Today, Gov. Beshear shared options for eligible Kentucky residents to receive assistance through the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP is a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program that helps ensure households can afford high-speed internet for work, school, health care and more.
The benefit provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price. A household is eligible for the ACP if the household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or if a member of the household meets at least one of the criteria listed on FCC.gov/ACP.
Team Kentucky All-Stars
First Lady Britainy Beshear named school social workers as this week’s Team Kentucky All-Stars. The Governor also proclaimed March 5-11, 2023, as School Social Work Week in the commonwealth.
“As parents to two public school kids, Andy and I recognize the important role every teacher and school employee play, and that is especially true of our school social workers,” said First Lady Britainy Beshear. “To these heroes working daily to support Kentucky’s children: We see your value. We see the hard work you put in daily to make a difference, and we are so grateful for your efforts and the positive impact you’re making for kids across Kentucky.”