FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – Gov. Andy Beshear signed tornado-relief legislation Thursday to provide an immediate infusion of aid for schools and residents left homeless by deadly storms that hit Kentucky last month.
Beshear and lawmakers said more rounds of assistance will be forthcoming in responding to the December storms that devastated communities in western Kentucky and elsewhere in the state. The storm’s death toll reached 77 in Kentucky.
The Democratic governor signed the fast-track legislation a day after the measure cleared the Republican-dominated legislature.
‘”I’m proud that we’ve all worked together to respond to meet the needs of these families,” Beshear said before joining a group of lawmakers for the bill signing. “But we know that it’s going to take a long time – a year, maybe two – to not just dig out but to rebuild.”
The relief measure includes $200 million of assistance requested by the governor.
The bill will pump an initial $45 million into communities, with $15 million for temporary housing and $30 million for schools. The school aid will be used to repair damaged schools and for such services as after-school programs, mental health counseling, and transportation for displaced students. More rounds of aid will be allocated later for other recovery needs.
Republican Rep. Richard Heath, whose western Kentucky district was devastated by the storm, thanked the governor for his quick response to the disaster and his continued focus on the recovery.
“I think this shows the bipartisan effort that’s needed,” he said. “And we all know that natural disasters don’t know the difference between Democrat and Republican.”