Governor Andy Beshear used his first State of the Commonwealth Address to focus on education issues. The speech emphasized public education at all levels.
The first term governor said specifics on how to pay for initiatives would come in two weeks during a separate budget speech. But, Beshear did state, “we must end historic cuts to our universities and community colleges.” That message resonated with Eastern Kentucky University Interim President David McFaddin who says he’s seen nearly a decade of consistent reductions in higher ed funding. “We are looking forward to seeing a stop to those cuts but also a reinvestment, because as the governor highlighted we need four year degrees, we need graduate degrees, we need technical degrees,” said McFaddin.
Governor Beshear also called for substantial criminal justice reform. Afterward, Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer said that’s an area where bi-partisan agreement is possible. But Thayer added there wouldn’t be widespread support for letting inmates who have committed crimes against others out of jail.
Grayson Senator Robin Webb is a longtime member of the judiciary committee. Webb said incarceration rates, prison conditions and staffing have all needed more attention for decades. “It all goes back to not addressing the underlying cause in that a lot of it is mental illness and substance abuse. So there’s got to be a treatment component and a re-entry component,” said Webb.
Governor Beshear will deliver his biennial budget suggestions to a joint session of the legislature on January 28th.
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