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Bevin touts strength, growth, cites ‘Blueprint for Better KY’ in State of Commonwealth address

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

“The State of the Commonwealth is strong, very strong,” Gov. Matt Bevin said during his annual State of the Commonwealth address, delivered to a joint session of the General Assembly Thursday night.

Bevin described progress from seven items from the “Blueprint for a Better Kentucky” he handed out during his first such address in 2016.

The first point was enacting pro-business, right-to-work legislation.

Gov. Matt Bevin (Kentucky Today/KET screenshot)

“We’ve seen $17.7 billion in new private capital investment in our commonwealth the last three years, along with 49,870 jobs.”

Another point, modernizing Kentucky’s tax code.  

“Yes, there’s some clean-up to get done, but based on what you did last year, per the Tax Foundation, we have moved from 37th to 23rd in terms of our business tax climate,” Bevin said.

Pension reform was another point from his blueprint. 

“We have started to pay as we go,” he said, “but we must do more. There’s still a need for structural change going forward. We have to, or the money will not be there.”

The Governor also touted his Red Tape Initiative, which eliminates regulations.  

“There were 4,700 regulations when I was first elected,” he said. “We have currently cut 562 completely, 571 have been amended or updated.” He noted that lawmakers passed legislation that ends a regulation after seven years.

Bevin said his plan to refurbish Kentucky’s State Parks has already made a difference. 

 “(There are) 18,000 more room nights were booked last year over the previous one.” He said the tens of millions of dollars earmarked for parks improvement is credited with the improvement.

Fixing the state’s bridges and infrastructure was one of the seven points. 

“A thousand bridges are in the process of being fixed,” he said. “It will the difference in terms of infrastructure, safety and getting goods and services to market.”

Modernizing the education system was the seventh point. Bevin credited lawmakers.  

“There is more money per pupil being budgeted for K-12 education than ever in the history of Kentucky.  This means better opportunity for young people.”

Looking ahead, Bevin thanked lawmakers for the school safety bill, which will likely clear the Senate on Friday.

The Governor also saluted lawmakers for passing pro-life legislation on a bipartisan basis, contrasting their actions to legislatures in New York and Virginia, “That is literally, straight out infanticide,” he said.  “This is reprehensible, it’s disgusting, and I’m grateful for the fact that this body in this state stands strongly on the side of life.”

Bevin noted there are nearly 10,000 children in foster care and 2,700 in need of adoption and called upon houses of worship to aid in finding these children forever homes.

After the address, House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, said there were parts of the speech he liked, such as fighting the opioid crisis, improving foster care and school safety, but others he did not.

“When you talk about economic prosperity, I would question some of his numbers and some of the things he said. There are certain parts of this Commonwealth that are doing very, very well, and there are other parts where economic prosperity has not happened.”

Adkins said parts of the state are losing population due to a lack of jobs and economic opportunity.

Adkins pointed out last year’s tax code changes passed without a single Democrat voting in favor of it.  

“It raised taxes on 95 percent of Kentuckians and lowered taxes on the top five percent.  That’s wrong.”

Adkins is a candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in the May Primary as is Attorney General Andy Beshear, who was also on hand for the speech.

“I believe this Governor showed, through his Powerpoint and his speech, that he is out of touch with our families,” Beshear said. 

 “This Governor thinks our economy and our families are rosy when their struggles are real. It’s time we have a Governor who cares less about out-of-state CEOs and more about our in-state families.”

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