January 14, 2020 9:29pm
Key GLI Priorities in Governor Beshear’s State of the Commonwealth address
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear delivered his first State of the Commonwealth address this evening to a joint session of the General Assembly. Historically, the State of the Commonwealth has served as an opportunity for Kentucky governors – especially new governors – to highlight major policy initiatives and priorities for the coming year. While Governor Beshear bookended his address with calls for bipartisanship and setting a cooperative tone, much of his speech followed past precedent by outlining key budget and policy priorities – including several initiatives that GLI is actively championing in the 2020 legislative session.
One key area mentioned by Governor Beshear was infrastructure. As part of a larger strategy aimed at transforming Kentucky’s economy “to become an international leader in the industries of the future,” Governor Beshear stressed the need for major infrastructure projects such as the Mountain Parkway and an I-69 bridge in Western Kentucky. The Governor also pointed to the need for investment in water infrastructure and broadband.
Infrastructure investment is a major component of GLI’s 2020 State Agenda. GLI advocates for an increase to the state gas tax, reforms of the Commonwealth’s outdated road-aid formula, greater investment in public transportation, and investment in multi-modal transportation, telecommunications infrastructure, and water and wastewater infrastructure.
Education was another prominent theme in the Governor’s speech. Looking ahead to his forthcoming budget address on January 28, Governor Beshear said he intended to present an “education first budget.” He also said his budget would “embrace higher education.” GLI strongly advocates for more K-12 funding as well as greater investment in state universities and community colleges. These initiatives are critical for developing our homegrown workforce and attracting top talent to the Commonwealth.
Criminal Justice Reform
A third policy area highlighted by the Governor was criminal justice reform. Governor Beshear noted that Kentucky has one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation, which is driving up costs for the state and local governments and doing little to keep Kentuckians safer. Governor Besearch called for policies to reduce incarceration, lower recidivism rates, and provide more treatment options for individuals struggling with substance use disorders.
Criminal justice reform has long been a major priority for GLI and is part of a larger strategy to develop a competitive workforce in the greater Louisville region. As the first business organization in Kentucky to endorse Class D felony expungement, GLI focuses on reforms that reduce incarceration and improve re-entry. In 2020, GLI will be advocating for further improvements to the Commonwealth’s expungement laws and positive changes to Kentucky’s parole, probation, and cash-bail systems.
One final policy area that the Governor mentioned tonight was expanded gaming through casino gambling and sports wagering. GLI is a strong proponent of both of these measures, not only as revenue generators for the state but as business development opportunities for regions like greater Louisville. Passage of sports wagering legislation, in particular, is a top 2020 priority for GLI.
GLI looks forward to working with both Governor Beshear and the General Assembly in advancing these shared initiatives in 2020.
Governor Beshear’s full 2020 State of the Commonwealth address can be read here.