FRANKFORT, Ky. (WAVE) – Governor Andy Beshear delivered his first State of the Commonwealth address Tuesday night and promised a pay raise for Kentucky teachers.
Beshear also touched on topics that will affect every Kentucky family, from healthcare to education to pension reform.
He said the key to breaking a cycle of poverty is through education.
“Investing in our public schools means investing in our teachers,” Beshear said. “And those teachers deserve a raise. They are on the front lines of every problem we face as a commonwealth, from family-member addiction, to hunger, to the need for better jobs.”
He promised a $2,000 raise for teachers across Kentucky in what he called his ‘education-first budget’ and promised to embrace improvements for higher education, too.
“We can and we must afford it,” Beshear said.
Apart from education, the governor stressed the need to create new revenue in Kentucky and expressed his support for a sports betting bill that has been filed.
“Right now, we are watching more than $500 million dollars in gaming revenue go across the border to states like Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois,” he said. “It’s time to stop that flow, to use that money for our needs.”
The legislature's leaders agreed they liked the tone of Beshear’s speech.
“I think he did a really good job,” Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey said. “He had to come in here, and you say, ‘set the tone.’ I say, ‘reset the tone.’”
House Minority Leader Joni Jenkins agreed Beshear’s speech set up the tone for the upcoming legislative session.
“I think it was a very positive speech,” Jenkins said. “I think it sets up some anticipation for what's in store for us in two weeks.”
House Speaker David Osborne and Senate President Robert Stivers said they want to know how Beshear plans to execute the ideas he laid out.
“I think at some point in time we're going to have to dispense with the pleasantries and talk about governing,” Osborne said.
Stivers said the tone of the speech was nice, and he believes the governor is trying to create a different dynamic.
“It’s now time to start having real discussions about real problems and finding real solutions, and that will be the key to this,” Stivers said, “to see if his rhetoric will be matched by his actions.”
Governor Beshear's next major speech will be in two weeks when he presents his budget plan.
Watch Beshear’s State of the Commonwealth address and read his speech below.