Beshear Warns COVID-19 Is ‘Biggest Threat To Our Budget’

Jul 23, 2020

Gov. Andy Beshear
Credit Stephanie Wolf

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said he’s optimistic the state will end the fiscal year without the originally projected $457 million budget shortfall

During a COVID-19 media briefing Wednesday, Beshear said they “don’t have all the numbers in” yet, but the state made cuts and had more revenue come in than expected. That means he’s hopeful that they won’t have to make any cuts “to education, health, public safety, or the judicial or legislative branch in the budget that we just ended,” he said. “We would have been paying for that going forward. We also expect to increase our Rainy Day Fund.”

He projected a more than 18% increase to Kentucky’s Budget Reserve Trust Fund. Another “bit of good news” he reported was higher-than-expected lottery revenues that would infuse another $15 million into need-based student financial aid.

That doesn’t mean the state is in the clear moving forward, Beshear cautioned, as the pandemic continues to be “the biggest threat to our budget.” He said they might have to make steep cuts in the future if the state doesn’t get help from the federal government. 

Beshear reported 518 new cases during his Wednesday briefing, 14 of which were kids 5 and younger, bringing the state’s total to 24,540. 

He said he was encouraged to see the governors of Indiana and Ohio issue statewide face-covering mandates. 

“They have followed our lead,” he said. “The step that we took is the right step. This is going to help, and make Kentucky’s response more effective… and it should show you that there is no political division in what is the right public health response. This is the difference between life and death.”

Kentucky’s positivity rate for the virus has risen to 4.92%, which he described as concerning, because it shows higher case numbers aren’t just due to increased testing.

“It’s more people that are being tested are showing positive results,” Beshear said. “We’re seeing more cases all across America. We know the coronavirus is increasing.”

The governor also announced three new deaths in Kentucky from COVID-19.