Education Focus of Governor’s 2022 Budget Address
Friday, January 14, 2022
Acknowledging the pandemic's toll on Kentucky students, teachers and families, Gov. Andy Beshear announced last night a state budget which would make the largest single investment on record in pre-K through high school education.
The governor said he is dedicating $11 million annually for statewide learning focusing on literacy and math, and a 12.5% increase in per-pupil funding. He noted the money will fund preschool for all four-year-olds, and full-day kindergarten for every Kentucky child.
"This budget starts at the earliest age, providing universal preschool for all four year-olds, and full day Kindergarten for every child, all for the first time ever in the Commonwealth," Beshear stated.
The proposal also funds school districts' costs for student transportation with $175 million annually, an 81% increase. And it includes $229 million for textbooks, instructional resources and staff professional development.
The governor also announced a student-loan forgiveness program for Kentucky teachers.
Beshear explained implementing universal pre-K will cost $172 million dollars, which comes at a time when the Commonwealth is equipped with excess funds.
"That is only 8% of our budget surplus," Beshear explained. "Eight percent for the future of our kids."
The state saw revenue increase by nearly $2 billion, 16% greater than initial projections for the 2022 fiscal year, according to the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.
The governor also unveiled another new student-loan forgiveness program, to make it easier to recruit and keep nurses in the Commonwealth. He said the money is from the State Fiscal Recovery Fund in the American Rescue Plan. He highlighted the impact of the pandemic on the state's healthcare system.
"COVID-19 has now taken the lives of more than 12,400 of our fellow Kentuckians, and over 840,000 of our fellow Americans," Beshear observed.
Starting in May, the loan-forgiveness program will provide $5 million a year for five years, to be used to forgive student debt of up to $3,000 per year for each year a nurse or a nursing faculty member is employed.
Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.
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