HENDERSON, Ky (WEHT) – Governor Andy Beshear celebrated what he described as continued economic strength in the commonwealth during his weekly Team Kentucky update, as General Fund receipts for July 2023 totaled $1.1 billion, marking the 11th consecutive month with revenues over $1 billion.

Governor Beshear said this budget surplus represents a 7.1% increase compared with July 2022 receipts despite the 10% reduction in the individual income tax rate. Beshear credits this strength to more jobs, higher wages and salaries, growth in sales revenues and continued business profits.

“We are being fiscally responsible, and we are keeping our economy booming,” said Gov. Beshear. “We are going to keep working to make sure prosperity reaches every corner of the commonwealth.”

The governor also discussed a number of other topics during his Team Kentucky update. Here are the highlights from this week’s Team Kentucky update.

Economic development

Governor Beshear joined business owners and state tourism leaders at Lexington’s Crank & Boom Craft Ice Cream in the city’s Distillery District on Tuesday to announce that 2022 was the best year on record for Kentucky tourism, with $12.9 billion generated in economic impact and 91,668 jobs created. According to a study by Tourism Economics, 75.9 million travelers visited Kentucky in 2022, spending $8.9 billion across the commonwealth.

The governor also congratulated Nucor Corp. on Tuesday for its new power purchase agreement with NextEra Energy Resources LLC. The governor says Nucor will receive 250 megawatts of renewable energy from Sebree Solar LLC, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources in Henderson County.

On Wednesday, Beshear joined BlueOval SK executives to tour the BlueOval SK Battery Park in Glendale. A release from the governor’s office says hourly employee hiring has begun at the second battery plant to fill the 5,000 jobs created at the two plants.

Beshear announced nearly $2 million in funds and credits to assist the training of nearly 7,000 Kentucky workers. The approvals were part of the first Bluegrass State Skills Corporation meeting of fiscal year 2024.

Records set inside Kentucky schools

During the update, Governor Beshear previewed the annual report from the Office of the State School Security Marshal.

According to the governor, the report will show there are 685 School Resource Officers employed by Kentucky public schools, the most in the state’s history. In addition, Beshear also said 99% of schools are in compliance with statutorily mandated access control requirements. Since the passage of the school Safety and Resiliency Act in 2019, the number of full-time school resource officers has increased by 66%.

Beshear says since the beginning of last school year alone, there has been a 33% increase in schools with a full-time SRO on campus, and the number is expected to continue to rise during the school year.

“This report looks encouraging. We will always have more work to do, but we have made incredible strides in improving school safety,” said Beshear. “As a dad of children in public schools, I am truly grateful for the work that State School Security Marshal Ben Wilcox and his team do every day.”

Sports betting

Beshear gave the following update on retail and mobile applications for sports wagering:

“The countdown is on. Kentuckians can plan to place their first sports wagers, at a retail location, in just 28 days,” said Beshear. “Bringing sports wagering to the state not only gives Kentuckians a much-anticipated new form of entertainment, but also brings money to the state to support pensions, freeing up money that can be used to build a better Kentucky through the funding of education, economic development, disaster recovery and other necessary projects, like providing cleaner water, building roads and high-speed internet.”

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has received applications from the following seven licensed race tracks:

  • Churchill Downs
  • Cumberland Run
  • Ellis Park
  • Oak Grove Gaming and Racing
  • The Red Mile
  • Sandy’s Gaming and Racing
  • Turfway Park

Eastern Kentucky flood update

According to the governor’s office, 71 families displaced by floods in eastern Kentucky are housed in travel trailers, and 311 households have transitioned out of the Commonwealth Sheltering Program in eastern Kentucky.

As of last week, FEMA has approved $1.2 million to help Floyd County homeowners move to higher ground and $5.6 million for debris removal in Mayfield after the 2021 tornadoes in western Kentucky.

Governor Beshear also provided an update on the $212.7 million EKSAFE fund established when the governor called the General Assembly into a special session in August 2022.

“The $65 million portion of that fund designated to help counties, cities, utilities and nonprofits recover has been almost entirely expended,” said Gov. Beshear. “I had originally asked for $125 million for this portion of the fund, and now this portion is running low, and we need to replenish it. The needs are still very significant. Counties that were impacted cannot thrive without additional funding. At the beginning of the next session of the General Assembly, I will be recommending additional funding and will ask that they put an emergency clause on it so it can be opened up immediately.”

Team Kentucky All-Stars

Governor Beshear recognized the Breathitt County Public Library team as this week’s Team Kentucky All-Stars.

Following the deadly flooding in eastern Kentucky, the Breathitt County Public Library opened its doors for Kentuckians to shelter and helped residents research and find replacement documents such as birth and marriage certificates so they could complete FEMA claims. The library also provided childcare and activities for children while their parents and caregivers applied for aid.

The Breathitt County Public Library was awarded the Library Journal and Gale’s inaugural Defying the Odds Award earlier this month, and received a $10,000 award.

“This team truly did defy the odds and I have no doubt their efforts helped so many of our Eastern Kentucky families get back on their feet so they could start recovering and rebuilding,” said Gov. Beshear. “Congratulations to the team at the Breathitt County Public Library. You truly are Team Kentucky All-Stars.”