FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX 56) — Gov. Andy Beshear delivered his 3rd State of the Commonwealth address Wednesday evening, touting the state’s economic successes while acknowledging the challenges brought by natural disasters and the pandemic.

“But even though these trials and the pain we carry from them, I am here to report that the state of our Commonwealth is strong,” Gov. Beshear said. “In Kentucky, we are good people, tough people, resilient people. We care deeply for one another. And while they may knock us down, no tornado, no pandemic, no flood, no ice storm can break us. Because we do not break.”

Gov. Beshear touted economic successes accomplished in the past year “with the largest ever private-sector investment, the most new jobs ever created, and at the second-highest wages in state history.” Among those successes what Beshear calls the “largest single investment the state has ever seen,” Ford’s near-$6 billion electric vehicle battery plant that will reportedly create 5,000 jobs.

The governor also acknowledged hardships felt in the last year, not limited to just the continuing pandemic, but also natural disasters like the ice storms and flooding of early 2021 and the more recent Western Kentucky tornadoes. Gov. Beshear announced he is working with legislators on an aid bill for storm victims that would direct $150 million to help communities rebuild and another $50 million to also help affected schools recover.

“It shows that we, democrats and republicans, house and senate, executive and legislative branches will stand with these families,” Gov. Beshear said.

Gov. Beshear also teased major budget priorities, the finer details of which will be released in a budget address on Thursday, Jan. 13.

Budget priorities:

  • an “historic” investment in education
  • a development site investment fund
  • incentives to retain and recruit essential workers like Kentucky State Police, nurses, and teachers
  • continuing economic growth in agriculture technology and pharmaceuticals
  • infrastructure investments like a Brent-Spence companion bridge and expansions to the Paducah airport and Mountain Parkway
  • raises for all state employees

In a press conference, members of the GOP majority leadership responded to Gov. Beshear’s address. Both Senate President Robert Stivers and Speaker of the House David Osborne say they want a more open dialogue with the governor.

“Actions need to follow words, we’ve said this over and over again. We’ve been able to sit down with the governor, we’ve been able to sit down and have good legitimate discussions as the speaker said but those have been too few,” Sen. Stivers said.

The leaders said they also share a different perspective on the economy than the one portrayed by Gov. Beshear during his address.

“There are certainly certain sectors of the economy that have been impacted by federal dollars, that part of the economy is probably pretty good for them,” Speaker Osborne said. “Over 90,000 unfilled jobs in Kentucky? There are huge holes in our economy that have got to be addressed before we can truly have an economy that’s clicking along on all cylinders.”

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The address comes with the highest COVID-19 numbers reported since the start of the pandemic.

FOX 56’s Bode Brooks will have a full report later tonight.

This is a developing story. Stay with FOX 56 for updates.