KENTUCKY (WEHT) – During Thursday’s Team Kentucky update, Governor Beshear highlighted the Kentucky unemployment rate, a surplus in the General Fund budget, efforts to provide cleaner water and provided updates on the water shortage in Marion, COVID-19 and named this week’s Team Kentucky All-Star.

Unemployment reaches another historic low

The governor reported that the commonwealth’s June 2022 unemployment rate hit a new historic low of 3.7%. This is the third consecutive month that Kentucky’s unemployment was reported at an all time low.

“While our families face a lot of challenges today – from the pandemic to the deadliest tornado we have ever seen, inflation and a war in Ukraine – it’s important we remember that we are tough and we must have faith,” Gov. Beshear said. “The challenges of today are what we have to push through to get to a bright and optimistic tomorrow where we are seeing more new jobs, investments and better wages than we have ever seen.”

Fiscal Year 2022 General Fund budget surplus

Kentucky’s General Fund budget surplus has exceeded $1 billion for the second year in a row. The surplus for fiscal year 2022 was reported at $1,033,445,597.

According to a press release, nearly all of the $1 billion surplus will go into Kentucky’s Rainy Day fun. The Road Fund ended the year with a $70.4 million surplus. The governor said that money will be directed to spending on projects in the 2022-2024 biennial highway construction program.

Clean water projects

The governor announced during the Team Kentucky update $30 million in funding to support 29 projects that will provide clean drinking water and improve water systems for 1,245 households across the commonwealth. The governor also announced an addition $250 million from his Cleaner Water Program is now available for local utilities to submit projects for the second round of funding.

The Cleaner Water Program is part of Governor Beshear’s Better Kentucky Plan.

Marion water update

Governor Beshear also provided an update on his administration’s actions to address the city of Marion’s water shortage.

On Wednesday, six truckloads of water purchased by The Kentucky Division of Emergency Management were delivered. The governor said teams have also identified and repaired a water line leak saving an estimated 144,000 gallons of water per day.

SNAP benefits

Governor Beshear addressed inquiries from Kentuckians about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. During the last General Assembly session, the state Senate and House passed Senate Joint Resolution 150, significantly reducing food benefits. The governor vetoed the resolution, but it was overridden.

“Hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians, including children and seniors, who get help with food assistance are seeing their benefits plunge, and it is a direct result of actions of our General Assembly this past session. Sadly, the majority of Kentucky lawmakers voted to reduce food benefits, even as our nation struggles with the biggest increase in food costs in decades. Payments to low-income Kentuckians and Kentucky families dropped in May when the General Assembly opted out of an ongoing federal program that made our state eligible for an increase in food-assistance. This resulted in nearly $46 million of additional food dollars per month being lost to Kentuckians,” Gov. Beshear said. “It has not only hurt the people in the communities, it has hurt 4,300 businesses and retailers where SNAP is accepted. I vetoed that legislation, I urged them, let’s have more compassion than this.”

The governor encouraged Kentuckians impacted by the decline of food assistance to visit and to find additional assistance programs.

Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief

The governor and the Commonwealth Sheltering Program, administered through KYEM and KYTC, reported that all tornado survivors have moved out of Kentucky State Parks. Currently, 86 households are sheltering in travel trailers.

Governor Beshear said 150,000 individuals and organizations from all over the world contributed to the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund, raising nearly $52 million to assist in long-term recovery. To date, more than $42.1 million has been disbursed and pledged from the fund to individual Kentuckians and families as they rebuild from the December 2021 tornadoes.

Flash flood damage in Cumberland County

Flash Floods have been reported in the Burkesville area of Cumberland County after heavy rainfall was reported on Wednesday night. Although several roads are damaged and some low-lying roads remain flooded, KYEM has indicated that creeks are receding.

Team Kentucky All-Stars

The governor named his communications director, Crystal Staley, as this week’s Team Kentucky All-Star. A press release says Staley oversees communications for the governor’s office, as well as the executive branch’s 12 cabinets. Last week, she was recognized as one of the 2022 Notable Women in Kentucky Politics and Government by the Kentucky Gazette.

“Crystal has worked in state government for 15 years and she is committed to making Kentucky a better place. She has worked day and night even while having a young family,” Gov. Beshear said. “She is the hardest working, most dedicated team member and a good friend to everybody. Watching her and her team teaches me good lessons on leadership.”