Steve Beshear was elected Governor of Kentucky in 2007 and was re-elected in 2011. During his time in office, Gov. Beshear has focused on initiatives to help Kentucky families, particularly in the areas of health and health care, education and economic development.
Kentucky’s health benefit exchange, known as kynect, has been hailed as a national model since its launch on Oct. 1, 2013, for its smooth operation and easy interface for users looking for affordable health coverage. Since enrollment began last fall, more than 421,000 Kentuckians (nearly 1 in 10) have enrolled for health care through kynect.
Building on that success, this year Gov. Beshear launched the kyhealthnow initiative to significantly reduce incidence and deaths from diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease and to improve the state’s collective health.
In 2012, Gov. Beshear signed landmark legislation to curb prescription drug abuse. Since the bill’s implementation, the results have shown steady closings of noncompliant pain management clinics and a drop in the number of prescriptions for heavily abused controlled substances. For the first time in a decade, the number of Kentucky deaths blamed on prescription overdoses has declined.
Kentucky is also now a national leader in education reform, becoming the first state in the nation to adopt the Common Core Standards and the second state in the nation to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards. The Governor and First Lady Jane Beshear spearheaded a successful push to raise Kentucky’s dropout age from 16 to 18 years old. In 2011, he was presented the America’s Greatest Education Governor award by the National Education Association. With initiatives spanning from early childhood and kindergarten to college and career readiness, Gov. Beshear has demonstrated a commitment to improving education for all Kentuckians.
During his time in office, Gov. Beshear has brought Kentucky successfully through a historic recession by making the Commonwealth a leader in job creation. Since implementing Incentives for a New Kentucky (INK) legislation in July 2009, Gov. Beshear has announced more than $8.8 billion in new economic development investment and more than 52,000 new and retained jobs in the Commonwealth.
In 2013, Kentucky shattered its all-time export record, reaching $25.3 billion in sales of Kentucky-made products and services. The state’s annual export growth rate of 14 percent was second-highest in the nation and was well over the nationwide export growth average of 2 percent. This growth included a record year in motor vehicle exports, ranking Kentucky the third-highest auto-producing state in the country.
In one of many bipartisan efforts throughout his time in office, Gov. Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers created SOAR (Shaping Our Appalachian Region) in 2013 to address the challenges facing eastern Kentucky and its economy.
With Kentucky emerging from the historic recession, Gov. Beshear won approval of a budget in 2014 that contains key education-related proposals that will create a brighter future for Kentucky’s children and families. Among other things, the budget raises per-pupil spending to its highest level ever, gives teachers and other employees overdue raises, increases the number of 4-year-olds in preschool, enables community colleges to add critically needed classroom space and other facilities and restores cuts to child care programs that help working families keep their jobs. It also provides additional funding for school technology, school textbooks, school safety, professional development for educators and bonding for school construction.
An attorney by profession, Gov. Beshear has a long background in public service, having served as a state representative in the Kentucky General Assembly, as attorney general and as lieutenant governor prior to being elected Governor.
Gov. Beshear is a native of Dawson Springs in Hopkins County, in western Kentucky. He holds a bachelor’s degree and law degree from the University of Kentucky and served in the U.S. Army Reserve.
He and his wife, Jane, have been married since 1969. They have two sons and three grandchildren.