Governor Steve Beshear Wednesday night delivered his final State of the Commonwealth address. House and Senate leaders offered positive comments regarding Beshear's tenure.
Governor Beshear's eighth State of the Commonwealth Speech ran a little over an hour and was interrupted by applause from legislators more than 35 times. Beshear spoke about leading Kentucky through a historic recession, as well as achievements in education, and insuring Kentuckians through the state's health care exchange.
Afterwards, House Speaker Greg Stumbo said the governor had earned the right to toot his own horn. "He enjoys a very high level of popularity with Kentuckians. They believe in his leadership and they should because he's been, I think, one of the most outstanding governors that we've had in our state's history," said Stumbo.
Senate President Robert Stivers, a republican, also had positive remarks about the democratic governor. "Probably one of the greatest successes he has had is the ability, after the day of the election, as he spoke, to sit down and work with people candidly and fairly," said Stivers.
When asked about Kentucky's efforts to move ahead with federal health care reforms, Stivers said questions remain about its overall impact regarding costs and coverage.
The governor said education reform efforts during his tenure have focused on rigorous standards, aligned assessments, and better prepared students for life after high school. Following the speech, Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said though gains have been made, more work lies ahead. "The outcomes of high school graduation rate and percentage of kids that are reaching college career readiness are pretty remarkable in Kentucky, but we still have a lot of students who aren't getting there," said Holliday.
The governor asked lawmakers to act during this short session on issues such as heroin addiction, protections for dating couples, a statewide smoking ban, and a local option sales tax.