Governor Beshear believes nothing is more important than keeping the jobs we already have and creating new ones in every corner of Kentucky.
In 2009, Governor Beshear overhauled Kentucky's business incentive program, reforming existing incentives and creating new ones to attract companies to locate or expand their businesses in Kentucky. Since that overhaul, those new incentives have led to more than 200 projects with an investment of approximately $2 billion in the state – including a potential 11,500 new jobs and nearly 5,000 saved jobs.
Despite the lingering effects of the recession, USA Today rated Kentucky 4th overall for personal income growth in the past year. In Forbes' fifth-annual rankings of best places to do business, the Commonwealth improved by 12 places in 2010 from 2009, the country's third-highest improvement. Kentucky's business tax climate ranking rose faster than any other state, up 15 spots in two years to 19th in The Tax Foundation's 2011 State Business Tax Climate Index.
Kentucky Business Incentives and Financial Programs
Despite repeated budget shortfalls, Governor Beshear has balanced Kentucky's budget eight different times, yet has prevented significant cuts to our priorities of education, critical public safety programs and job creation efforts. And he has balanced the budget without any broad-based tax increases on Kentucky families and businesses.
Governor Beshear shrank state government to its smallest size in a generation, and continues to find ways to improve government efficiency with fewer taxpayer dollars. Some steps have included cutting political appointees and contracts, as well as selling off unneeded state property and vehicles. In addition, Gov. Beshear and his senior staff and cabinet secretaries have each taken 10 percent paycuts. Recognizing the growing cost of the state employee pension systems, Governor Beshear proposed and signed a landmark pension reform bill to reduce out-of-control costs while honoring the commitment to teachers, police officers, firefighters and state employees. This reform also helped ease the burden on the budgets of county and local governments and school districts.
Kentucky Surplus Property Sales
Governor Beshear pledged to restore honesty and transparency to Frankfort, and he took immediate steps to change Frankfort's culture.
Soon after taking office, Gov. Beshear issued an executive order instituting one of the nation's toughest ethics codes for employees. The order requires management to undergo ethics training; provides a ethics program for lobbyists; requires legal defense funds to disclose donors; and subjects members of state boards and commissions to ethics guidelines on gifts, among many other new standards. In addition, he has worked hard to clean up the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, returning a high standard of ethics to this important agency.
Kentuckians deserve to know exactly how taxpayer dollars are spent. Governor Beshear launched Open Door, a comprehensive website that shows the public where and how their dollars are being spent. This website was recognized by a national group as one of the best transparency websites in the nation. In addition, Governor Beshear launched a website to detail where and how the federal stimulus dollars are being spent, a website that received the second highest rating nationally for accountability to taxpayers.
Governor Beshear recognizes the tremendous importance of a quality education for not only our children, but the future of Kentucky. Despite repeated budget shortfalls, Gov. Beshear has managed to protect the primary education funding formula from any cuts. Kentucky moved into the top 20 in the nation in fourth-grade and eighth-grade reading scores; and improved our rankings in the following areas:
- fourth grade math scores,
- the number of young adults with a high school diploma or its equivalent,
- the number of students earning AP college credit in high school,
- the number of high school graduates going on to college and
- average teacher salary.
Kentucky's ranking for per-pupil total higher education funding has improved to 12th in the nation and Kentucky's ranking for the number of young adults with a bachelors degree or greater education is on the rise.
Governor Beshear made higher education more attainable for more students by signing legislation to make it easier to transfer credits from a community or technical college to any of Kentucky's four-year universities.
Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence: TOP 20 BY 2020
Council on Postsecondary Education
Kentucky's children succeed when they have a healthy start in life. Governor Beshear launched an aggressive campaign in 2009 to enroll all eligible children in state health insurance programs to ensure children receive the medical care they need. Since then, 52,000 more children have health insurance through the Kentucky Children's Health Insurance Program and Medicaid.
At the same time, Gov. Beshear authorized a pilot program in Eastern Kentucky to expand access to dental care and to train dentists in pediatric dental care.
Kentuckians need access to quality and affordable medicine. Governor Beshear launched the Kentucky Prescription Assistance Program to help needy Kentuckians get free and reduced-cost drugs from pharmaceutical companies. Since the program began in 2008, Kentuckians have received more than $60 million worth of needed medicines.
Recognizing the devastating impact that tobacco use has on Kentuckians, as well as the tremendous financial burden of related health care costs, Governor Beshear is the first governor to make needy Kentuckians eligible for tobacco cessation medications.
Kentucky Prescription Drug Assistance Program
Medicaid/Medicare Tobacco Cessation Benefits
Governor Beshear has honored the service of Kentucky's men and women in uniform as well as our veterans through several measures to improve their lives as well as recognize their tremendous sacrifices.
He signed legislation expanding the Military Family Assistance Trust Fund to cover more deployment-related hardship expenses. He also signed legislation requiring that those charged with a crime be asked if they have served in combat and be provided access to counseling. And under his leadership, the state joined a program providing free counseling services to veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and their family members.
In addition, Governor Beshear instituted a preference to veterans in state government hiring. Finally, his administration announced the purchase of land for and opened its fourth state veterans cemetery, because all veterans deserve a peaceful and dignified final resting place.