Beshear Outlines Budget Priorities

Governor Andy Beshear outlined infrastructure and economic development priorities in his upcoming budget proposal. The governor will deliver the biennial budget address on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. EST. During a Tuesday news conference, Beshear described what would be in his bill. The House introduced its budget bill last week as House Bill 1.

Beshear proposed $250 million for major transportation infrastructure projects ‒ the Brent Spence companion bridge project, I-69 Ohio River crossing in Henderson, and completion of the Mountain Parkway. The governor noted that these onetime funds give Kentucky the flexibility to meet state match requirements for expected federal grants.

When asked how long it would take to get federal approval if the General Assembly approves his budget, Beshear answered, “Our application will be in this year, and we would certainly hope that either this year or early next year we get the final okay from the federal government. I want to stick a shovel in the ground in 2023, and I think that is possible with the schedule for the infrastructure bill.”

Governor Beshear said he would allocate $184.9 million over three years for a state match to unlock nearly $774.7 million in federal money for the Highway Trust Fund. “This will allow for nearly $1 billion for road and bridge construction in Kentucky,” he said. Beshear’s 2022-2024 biennial highway construction plan equals $8.5 billion based on anticipated state and federal program revenue.

The City of Covington would receive $10 million to support construction and outfit a shared research and development lab focused on life sciences. The facility, Beshear said, would be a collaborative effort among the city, several private businesses, a regional economic development organization, and higher learning institutions.

He also spoke about the need to fund future economic development sites and set aside $250 million for the Site Identification Development Program. “This fund will help communities grow small sites into larger sites. It will help them prepare sites not just to be shovel-ready but to be build-ready. At a time when speed to market has never been more important, we must invest or get left behind,” Beshear insisted.

Another $2.5 million each year will train Ford workers on robotics and advanced manufacturing as Ford Motor Corporation and SK Innovation develop the Blue Oval City battery production facility.

Beshear also announced more than $500 million over the biennium for the Better Kentucky Cleaner Water Program, $200 million in broadband deployment monies to assist private sector and government entities build the last mile to unserved and underserved areas, $50 million to develop general aviation airports, plus $6 million to support the construction of a new terminal building at Barkley Regional Airport in Paducah.