Bipartisan agreement on Rescue Plan to create more than 14,500 Kentucky jobs
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WBKO) - On Wednesday, Gov. Andy Beshear joined legislative leaders from both parties to sign bipartisan legislation appropriating funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act to create jobs, build better schools, expand broadband and invest in infrastructure, including clean drinking water.
“While points of friction often get more attention, it’s important to note that on this crucial matter – at this profoundly consequential moment in history – everyone put their politics aside and instead put their shoulders to the grindstone to get this done for our people,” Gov. Beshear said. “We consulted with one another, and everyone agreed the right thing to do right now is to capitalize on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in our people and our future.”
Elected officials of both parties, including Senate President Robert Stivers, Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey, House Minority Leader Joni Jenkins and Secretary of State Michael Adams, joined Gov. Beshear in the Capitol Rotunda for Wednesday’s bill signings.
“To all the people involved in passing these bills, I have a great deal of respect and appreciation for what they’ve done,” said President Stivers. “It truly does set the table for brighter days.”
“The bills are a confirmation of what is possible when government is working together,” said Sen. McGarvey. “What you saw was Democrats and Republicans coming together and saying, ‘How can we help Kentuckians?’ We were affirming the idea that we’re all in this together is better than the idea that you’re on your own.”
“When we’re talking about doing what’s right for Kentucky, we can all come together, and this is a great show of that,” said Rep. Jenkins. “Expanding broadband, making sure that throughout Kentucky everyone has clean drinking water, making sure our schools are the best they can be – whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, House or Senate member, we all agree that that’s what we want for Kentucky.”
“Last year, Gov. Beshear and I worked across party lines to accommodate our elections process to the pandemic, and that resulted in the most secure and successful election Kentucky has ever had,” said Secretary Adams. “This year, the General Assembly has followed suit, working across party lines to enact the most significant reform of our elections system since 1891. This is a triumph of both policy and process.”
“At a minimum, $600 million will go toward broadband expansion. This investment is estimated to create over 10,000 direct and indirect jobs,” said Gov. Beshear. “Coupled with our recent speed test, access mapping and the KentuckyWired project, HB 320 has the potential to push Kentucky to the forefront of broadband expansion nationwide.”
House Bill 382 will fund a range of vital initiatives, including full-day kindergarten and the reopening of a medical examiner’s office in Northern Kentucky, which has been without an office since March 2018.
“Everyone knows my administration is an education first administration, and this is a key component,” Gov. Beshear said of state funding for full-day kindergarten. “Education helps break cycles of poverty, and early childhood education is one of the best investments we can make for Kentucky’s future.”
The bill also directs $575 million of the American Rescue Plan funds to the repayment of a federal unemployment insurance loan.
House Bill 556 provides $127 million for school construction and $75 million for renovation costs for local vocational schools, which will support the education of future workforces.
Along with creating a quality learning environment, this funding will also create 1,000 jobs.
This legislation includes $20 million of funding to rural hospitals.
Senate Bill 36 allocates $250 million in grant funds to provide upgrades to water and sewer infrastructure in communities across the state.
House Bill 574 allows for early voting, voting centers and an online portal for requesting absentee ballots. The bill also requires drop boxes, establishes recount procedures and requires voting machines to create a paper trail of votes cast.
“I firmly believe that we should be making it easier for Kentuckians to vote and participate in the democratic process,” said Gov. Beshear. “This new law represents important first steps to preserve and protect every individual’s right to make their voice heard.”
“While other states are caught up in partisan division, Kentucky is leading the nation in making it both easier to vote and harder to cheat,” said Secretary Adams.
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