Beshear: “Enough credit for everyone” for budget surpluses

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday there’s “enough credit for everyone” for Kentucky’s record budget surpluses during his tenure as he weighs in on the issues economies amid Republican attacks on soaring national inflation that is squeezing household budgets.

Beshear acknowledged the “difficult present” caused by rising consumer prices, but said the causes are “more complex than a topic of political discussion”. He continued to highlight economic development gains that he says position Kentucky to provide unprecedented opportunity.

On Monday, the Beshear administration announced that Kentucky’s general fund revenue for the past fiscal year grew at the highest rate in 31 years. The General Fund pays for most state services, including education, health care, and public safety. The surge left the state with its second-largest surplus on record, surpassed only by last year’s amount, the state’s budget director reported.

Beshear, who is seeking a second term in next year’s election, heralded it as another sign of the Bluegrass State’s economic boost under his leadership.

Republican House Speaker David Osborne hit back, saying the huge budget surplus was the result of the “sound fiscal policies and responsible tax reforms” of the GOP-dominated legislature.

At his weekly press conference Thursday, Beshear was asked how much of the GOP supermajorities in the legislature — which passed state budgets — deserved credit for bloated surpluses.

The governor replied that there was “enough credit for everyone. I’m not worried about sharing it.

“We go into this ‘D’ or ‘R’, or red or blue or left or right,” he added. “I’m just focused on pushing this state forward. So anyone wants to take a little credit…that’s fine. I think the facts are pretty clear: under this administration, we have the two biggest budget surpluses of all time. »

Beshear is expected to make his handling of the state’s economy the cornerstone of his campaign message. Last year, Kentucky set records for job creation and investment and recently posted its lowest unemployment rate on record. The state’s two most significant economic development announcements — related to electric vehicle battery production — occurred during his tenure.

But Republicans already involved in next year’s gubernatorial race are trying to tie the governor to Democratic President Joe Biden’s handling of the economy. A recent poll showed the governor receiving high job performance ratings from Kentuckians, but Beshear faces a tough re-election fight in a heavily Republican-leaning state.

State Representative Savannah Maddox, among the GOP gubernatorial candidates, spoke out this week after reports that US inflation hit a new four-decade high in June. Contrasting the news with the governor’s assessment of Kentucky’s economy, Maddox said it showed “how out of touch the Beshear administration is,” as many Kentuckians struggle to reach the two ends.

Beshear acknowledged the ongoing struggles on Thursday, but also pointed to glimmers of improvement. He said prices have fallen for some food items and noted gasoline prices have dropped 50 cents per gallon, on average, over the past month in Kentucky.

After years of low prices, a rapid rebound from the 2020 pandemic recession – combined with supply chain disruptions – sparked inflation. Beshear also pointed to the economic repercussions of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“It’s more complex than a political discussion topic,” the governor said. “There’s not a single thing you can point to that a party did that caused the inflation.”

GOP leader in the US Senate, Mitch McConnell, the most powerful Republican in the state, blames Democratic policies for the relentless surge in inflation. In a speech to the Senate on Wednesday, McConnell said it was “fueled directly by the reckless spending spree Democrats forced on parties last year.”

Meanwhile, Beshear continued to urge struggling Kentuckians to reach out for help. He announced a one-stop website to access resources available at governor.ky.gov/tipstosave.

The governor also said the state property tax rate has decreased from 11.9 cents to 11.5 cents per $100 of assessed value. This is the second annual drop in the property tax rate, the governor’s office said. The State Revenue Department is required by law to set the property tax rate each year by July 1.

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