December 19, 2023 2:14pm
“Forward Together”: Beshear releases budget proposal for 2024-2026
One week into his second term, Governor Andy Beshear released his proposed budget for the Commonwealth titled “Forward Together” for the 2024-2026 biennium. This budget proposal comes ahead of the legislative session that is set to begin January 2, 2024.
Beshear’s proposed executive budget focused on major issues impacting the state including childcare, public safety, and improvements to public infrastructure, including many top GLI priorities.
Governor Beshear leaned heavily into funding universal pre-k throughout the Commonwealth including proposing a 172 million-dollar annual investment in the public school system to support the preparation of over 10,000 four-year-old’s for kindergarten. The proposal also recognizes the depletion of funding at the federal level for childcare and would provide 140 million dollars to the childcare sector across the next two years. Beshear has proposed an increase in teacher salaries, as well as student loan forgiveness to those entering the education field after graduation.
The governor’s budget also seeks to improve the state police system and ease tension on correctional facilities in Kentucky. Beshear expanded the state police budget to increase salaries across the board, add new troopers, and improve equipment for the force. Kentucky State Police faced an unprecedented shortage of troopers in the past biennium and these proposals show a concerted effort by the governor to attract new troopers and retain those already in the system. This proposal also includes an increase in funding for juvenile detention centers to create female-only facilities, and expand access to reentry and substance abuse services for those in the correctional system.
Beshear’s budget proposal also focuses intensely on the workforce shortage that has been impacting businesses across the states over recent years. This effort extends across industries and includes a designated portion of money to fund talent attraction at the state, local, and regional levels.
State infrastructure also saw a great deal of investment in the governor’s proposed budget. Beshear highlighted several crucial areas for revitalization, including county and local bridges, general aviation airports, including Bowman Field in Louisville, highways, and a continued focus on statewide broadband access. Included in this is a one-time tax credit for Louisville residents designed to cover the cost of using the three toll bridges across the Ohio River in 2024. Additionally, his proposal sets aside money focusing on clean water throughout the state, as well as a portion of money designated for projects relating to water management improvements.
The state legislature will be crafting the budget for the next biennium in this upcoming session, beginning with an initial draft by the House of Representatives which is expected to be filed in January.