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Beshear Says McConnell Move Could Cost Kentucky Billions In Coronavirus Relief

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Andy Beshear says the $2,000 stimulus checks that President Donald Trump and Democrats are pushing for would bring billions in additional direct support to Kentucky families.  

President Trump, Democrats and an increasing number of Republicans have also voiced support for the payments. But on Tuesday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked Democrats efforts to hold an immediate vote to increase stimulus checks to $2,000. 

“The House has already voted for it, the president wants to sign it, the Senate is the only thing standing in the way of $5 billion going to our families, or not,” Beshear said during Tuesday’s Coronavirus briefing.

Instead McConnell said the Senate would consider larger payments along Trump’s other demands, which include removing a legal shield for tech companies and investigating election fraud. 

“This week, the Senate will begin a process to bring these three priorities into focus,” he said. 

Beshear called McConnell’s efforts to tie the issues together a “strategic political move.” 

“Two-thousand dollar checks to help the American people have nothing to do with liabilities for tech companies or the last election, nothing,” he said. 

Kentucky Coronavirus Relief

Kentucky households are set to receive $600 direct payments per adult (and $600 per child) as part of the relief package President Trump signed into law on Sunday. Individuals earning $75,000 or less and couples earning $150,000 or less qualify, Beshear said. 

That means a single parent with two children qualifies for $1,800 in stimulus.

In total, Beshear said the direct payments will add an estimated $2.265 billion into Kentucky’s economy. 

“That’s money that can be used to help our retailers, our restaurants, our small businesses,” he said.

Kentuckians on unemployment will receive an additional $300 per week for 11 weeks from the federal government, amounting to an estimated $500 million for the state. Federal relief funding also includes nearly $300 million for rent and utility assistance. 

Beyond help for Kentucky families, the relief funding provides an estimated $350 million to help fight COVID-19. That includes funding for testing, contact tracing and vaccine distribution. 

There’s also more than $1.2 billion in education funding, an estimated $165 million block grant for highways and more than $28 million to improve the state’s airports. 

Beshear said the act hasn’t done everything he hoped it would, but takes significant steps to help Kentuckians get back on their feet. He said more help will come from the state’s budget, which the governor intends to unveil next week. 

Tuesday COVID Numbers

Beshear reported 2,990 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday. He said Tuesday’s numbers indicate the exponential growth the experienced throughout November has stopped and cases have begun to slow, or plateau. 

  • 1,635 hospitalized
  • 380 in ICU
  • 211 on ventilators
  • 8.41% positivity rate
  • 31 deaths 
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