FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 25, 2023) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear updated Kentuckians on memorials to honor law enforcement officers; economic development growth; grants to clean up brownfields; public safety; the decline in overdose deaths; the General Assembly’s inaction that will cause a gas tax increase; cancer awareness efforts; and recovery efforts in Eastern Kentucky He also named Erica Kegley, the Kentucky winner of the Doodle for Google contest, as this week’s Team Kentucky All-Star.
Honoring Law Enforcement Officers
This week, Gov. Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman attended events to honor and remember Kentucky peace officers lost in the line of duty. On Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Coleman joined the Kentucky State Police at their academy in Frankfort to recognize 37 law enforcement officers for the agency’s annual memorial ceremony. Today, Gov. Beshear joined law enforcement officers and their families in Richmond to honor seven fallen heroes who lost their lives in the line of duty in 2022.
The Governor also honored Caleb Conley, a decorated deputy of the Scott County Sheriff’s Office, who was killed during a traffic stop on Monday.
“We are deeply grateful for the sacrifices these officers made and the sacrifices their families continue to make each and every day,” said Gov. Beshear. “We promise to never forget them and to continue to provide for them and honor them in any way we can.”
Economic Development Growth
Gov. Beshear shared economic development news and discussed companies investing in the commonwealth.
Gov. Beshear highlighted Kentucky’s continued economic success as Site Selection magazine placed the commonwealth at No. 1 in the South Central region of its newly released 2023 Prosperity Cup rankings, moving up two spots from last year’s third place position. Kentucky also placed in the top five nationally after ranking sixth in 2022.
On Wednesday at the Kentucky Truck Plant, Gov. Beshear joined Ford Motor Co. Executive Chair Bill Ford, Ford President and CEO Jim Farley and United Auto Workers leaders and employees to celebrate the arrival of the 2023 Ford F-Series Super Duty®.
The Governor highlighted continued growth in the state’s manufacturing sector as Halton, a leading manufacturer of commercial kitchen ventilation and air distribution systems, announced a $7.4 million expansion of the company’s facility in Allen County, creating 60 full-time Kentucky jobs.
The Governor highlighted continued growth of the Kentucky Product Development Initiative (KPDI), as projects in Barren, Fayette, Green, Hickman, Jackson, Jessamine, LaRue, McCreary, Todd, Wayne and Woodford counties moved through the program’s initial round. The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority approved 11 projects today for over $6.8 million in state funding in addition to local support.
Grants to Clean Up Brownfields
Today, the Governor and Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Goodman announced that 10 Kentucky communities and agencies have been selected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to receive over $7.9 million in grant funding to assess and clean up “brownfields” – industrial and commercial properties that are known or suspected to contain contaminants. To read more, see the full release.
Gov. Beshear said that Kentucky State Police Troopers of Post 11 made a large drug bust in Laurel County during a traffic stop Sunday, and large amounts of methamphetamine and heroin were seized, along with drug paraphernalia. Trooper Trey Lovins obtained a search warrant and was assisted on the scene by several other troopers and members of the London Police Department and the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office.
“Thank you to the troopers of Kentucky State Police Post 11 for your impressive work on this case. Because of you, even more dangerous drugs are off the streets, and the commonwealth has been made safer,” said Gov. Beshear.
Kentucky Sees Decline in Overdose Deaths
The Governor announced that Kentucky is one of the few states seeing a decline in overdose deaths nationwide. A recent article from the Associated Press noted that Kentucky is one of eight states that saw a sizeable overdose death decrease last year, while the nation saw an uptick in deaths. The article notes that the decrease in overdose deaths is due to intentional work to address addiction and offer more treatment services.
“Our efforts are making a difference – in fact, they are saving lives. And that is what is most important,” said Gov. Beshear. “This work is never-ending, and we will continue to fight this drug crisis with everything that we can because, as I’ve said time and time again, one Kentuckian lost to drug overdose is one too many.”
General Assembly Inaction on Gas Tax
In June 2022, Gov. Beshear signed an emergency regulation to prevent the Kentucky state gas tax from increasing. Under Kentucky law, when the average wholesale price of gas goes up a certain amount, the gas tax will increase as well. Without the Governor’s action, the law would have increased what Kentuckians were paying at the pump by 2 cents per gallon starting July 1, 2022. The emergency regulation was estimated to help Kentuckians save up to $35.4 million through January 2023.
House Minority Floor Leader Rep. Derrick Graham filed House Bill 89, which included language to maintain the tax rate freeze through fiscal year 2024. Although the Governor urged the General Assembly to keep the gas tax freeze in place, the bill failed to pass. As a result, beginning July 1, the gas tax rate will increase another 2.1 cents per gallon in the commonwealth.
The Governor stated that, given Kentucky had the best General Fund collections in state history, it wouldn’t have been an issue for those dollars to be used to make up for any loss to the Road Fund. In fact, Kentucky is on track to meet the updated General Fund revenue estimate for fiscal year 2023, which would result in a budget surplus of about $1.5 billion.
“I want Kentuckians to understand this process because it impacts us all at the pump,” said Gov. Beshear. “We are doing everything we can to try to help keep more money in the pockets of our hard-working Kentucky families and to provide some relief in these challenging times.”
Brain Cancer Proclamation
Gov. Beshear signed and presented three proclamations that recognize advocates working to find a cure for childhood brain cancer. The Governor first recognized May 17 as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG, Awareness Day in the commonwealth. To honor David Turner Jr., who died from DIPG, Gov. Beshear also declared May 21 as David Turner Jr. Ice Cream Day in Kentucky. The Governor then signed a proclamation recognizing May as Brain Tumor Awareness Month.
“Today, I want to celebrate some of the advocates who are working to find a cure for childhood brain cancer – something no kid should have to go through,” said Gov. Beshear. “We’re determined to make Kentucky a national leader in the fight against childhood cancer by raising awareness and funds for research. These advocates are heroes in this fight, and I am inspired by them.”
Eastern Kentucky Flood, February/March Severe Weather Update
The Governor provided an update on recovery and rebuilding efforts in Eastern Kentucky. Currently, 106 families are housed in travel trailers, and Kentucky State Parks are now housing 14 people, down from the 360 people sheltered on Sept. 1, 2022. Over 270 households have transitioned out of the Commonwealth Sheltering Program in Eastern Kentucky.
FEMA has approved more than $106.5 million in Individual Assistance grants. Since May 18, three more applicants have received the max grant of $37,900, bringing the total Housing Assistance max grants to $27.3 million for 721 survivors.
If you need help, please call FEMA directly or visit a Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC). MARC locations can be found at governor.ky.gov/Flood-Resources.
Gov. Beshear also updated Kentuckians on the severe weather that occurred in Feb. and March. Houses of worship impacted during the severe weather event from Feb. 15-20, 2023, located in one of the 22 declared counties can apply for FEMA public assistance by the June 8 deadline. Houses of worship impacted during the March 3-4 storms that are in one of the 12 counties added to the disaster declaration can apply by the June 18 deadline. Visit fema.gov for more information.
Team Kentucky All-Star
The Governor recognized Augusta Independent High School student Erica Kegley, whose art was recently chosen as the Kentucky winner of the Doodle for Google contest, and named her this week’s Team Kentucky All-Star.
Kegley’s art, titled “Mother and Daughter Relationships,” was inspired by her relationship with her own mother and depicts mother-daughter relationships throughout cultures and through animals and humans. Click here to see Kegley’s art. Gov. Beshear encouraged Kentuckians to support Kegley by voting for her art at doodles.google.com/d4g/vote.
“Erica, Team Kentucky is so proud of you. Thank you for representing our state well,” said Gov. Beshear. “I hope everyone will join me in supporting Erica and Augusta Independent by casting their votes today for the national competition.”