FRANKFORT, KY (WOWK) — Gov. Andy Beshear outlined today his budget plan to invest a record-breaking $2 billion in Pre-K-12 education.
Beshear says with the economic growth Kentucky has seen, it proves that it is a destination for global companies.
He says the way to “meet this moment” is to invest it in education to support Kentucky’s “future workforce.”
“Perhaps the most important step in ensuring we are never a flyover state ever again is investing in our teachers, schools and students. We are the destination, but to stay a world-class destination for world-class companies, we must have a world-class workforce. And that starts with education,” Beshear said at a press conference.
The investment would go towards providing universal preschool and full-day kindergarten, the press release says. The money would also be used towards fully funding student transportation with $175 million yearly, $11 million annually for statewide learning focusing on literacy and mathematical ability.
Beshear says the budget will provide $22.9 million yearly to, “restore funding for professional development as well as textbooks and instructional resources.”
It will also provide $6.2 million to address social, emotional and mental health needs of the students. The money for mental health needs will be used to train statewide staff and eight regional Social Emotional Learning institutes on how to handle students’ mental health the best way possible.
There will also be two grant programs for school districts that would provide wrap-around services to students that face, “violence, substance abuse, child abuse and parental incarceration, and other training and resources to help students.”
This year, the governor will be providing $97.4 million this year to support the renovation of 11 Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs that were not funded last year through the Better Kentucky Plan.
The press release says $75 million will be included for another round of renovations to more CTE centers. An additional $8 million annually to provide funding to 12 locally operated CTE centers that have not been a part of the “formula funding” in the last 12 years due to lack of funding.
State-operated area technical schools would receive $3.2 million in fiscal year 2023 and $3.6 million in fiscal year 2024.
Schools that need additional leadership, literacy and numeracy support will be supported by Beshear’s plan by providing $14.4 million each year to support all schools identified by the US Department of Education.
He says that a library grant program that had been eliminated will be brought back with $2.5 million annually for grants to local libraries.
The budget also proposes a minimum five-percent wage increase to all school personnel and providing $26.3 million each year for a student loan forgiveness program. The program would provide a maximum $3,000 annual award for each year of employment in a public school as a teacher.
He says there will be no health insurance premium increases for school employees.
$6 million more would be funded to the Family Resource and Youth Service Centers.
Higher education would see a 12% increase in funding which will include $500 million from the General Fund, the first significant funding for this in 20 years and $60 million for the Bucks for Brains program to be matched dollar-for-dollar with private donations, according to the press release.
The new Better Kentucky Promise Scholarship is for both public and private post-secondary students. This would be used for new associate degree and certificate-seeking students
The press release says the investment will, “turn two years of economic progress into 20 years of economic prosperity.”