KENTUCKY (WFIE) – Gov. Andy Beshear provided updates on several topics Thursday.
Among his announcements, Governor Beshear announced leaders at Accuride Corp., a manufacturer of wheels, wheel ends and braking equipment for commercial and passenger vehicles, and. investing in a Henderson County company and a $2 million commitment, creating 15 good-paying jobs for Kentucky residents.
Falling Gas Prices:
Beshear shared some good news with Kentuckians, as US gasoline prices have fallen nearly 50 percent in the past month, with a 4 percent drop per gallon since yesterday in Kentucky. The average gas price in Kentucky is 32 cents lower than the national average of $4.605 at $4.285, according to AAA.
The governor pointed to average price drops from last month in several locations, including 57 cents in Henderson and 70 cents in Owensboro.
Although prices are still higher than usual, the Governor shared a story from John Hicks, the state’s budget director and chief secretary of the incoming cabinet, that stuck with him: “‘When you see the price increase, it’s like a rocket coming and a feather coming down.’ We’re seeing this in a number of places, including oil prices, prices are starting to fall. While these silver linings may give us hope, we still have to admit that these are tough times. That’s why my administration is committed to doing everything we can to help Kentuckians save money.”
State Real Property Tax:
In good news for Kentuckians, Gov. Beshear shared that the state property tax has decreased, from 11.9 cents to 11.5 cents per $100 of assessed value. The Kentucky Department of Revenue is required by law to set the real property tax rate each year by July 1. This is the second annual decrease in the real property tax rate – only two years since 2008.
The governor said, “I want Kentuckians to know, we’re watching and we know that the real estate you own is going up in value. That’s why we’ve reduced the state property tax on real estate to help. To make sure your bill doesn’t go up too much and hopefully, for many of you , it will come down.”
Lower federal interest rates can also help reduce the increase in other tax components.
Highest Annual Interest Rate in 31 Years:
Gov. Beshear said that Kentucky’s economic growth continues this week as the state’s 2022 General Fund receipts grew the most in 31 years. On Monday, the Office of the State Budget Director reported a 14.6% increase over last year and reported that General Fund revenues were $ 14.7 billion, exceeding the budget figure by $ 945.4 million. This is the second-highest amount ever raised – surpassing last year’s tally – and the huge amount is expected to rise even further when the books close for use later this month.
“We’re seeing more jobs and better wages for Kentuckians, allowing more people to put food on the table and live the lives they want,” said Gov. Beshear.
The governor also said that when the books are closed at the end of this month, the state’s Mwaya Mwawa fund is expected to reach about $2.7 billion. When Gov. Beshear took over, the sum was $129 million.
Helping Kentuckians Save:
Gov. Beshear went on to share resources with Kentuckians across the state to save money. Two new programs the Governor added are the Kentucky Prescription Assistance Program and the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan funding assistance.
The governor also announced a one-stop website where people can find all the resources at governor.ky.gov/tipstosave.
Gov. Beshear Announces Additional $12 Million for Western Kentuckians:
The Governor announced an additional $12 million from the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund to assist those affected by the December 2021 tornado and other unmet needs. This support is focused on long-term recovery and will be managed by long-term support groups (LTRGs).
Eleven LTRGs applied for assistance from the fund. They will collect and assess the needs of the people in their community and present the needs of the people to the Minister of Human Security. This agreement will ensure that financial aid services are not duplicated and that those still in need receive support. Survivors who wish to apply for this assistance can contact their local LTRG. Contact information is available here.
988 Suicide and Serious Mental Illness:
Gov. Beshear said next week, Saturday, July 16, a simple three-digit mental health emergency call system, 988, will go into effect across the commonwealth.
The move is part of a global move away from the 10-number National Suicide Prevention Hotline, 800-273-8255, which remains available during the transition to help those in need.
The 988 number will soon connect Kentuckians who are experiencing suicidal thoughts, depression or addiction problems with compassionate and trained counselors who can help. The helpline is available 24/7 and counselors respond to calls, chats or texts from those seeking help and from Kentuckians who are worried about a loved one who may need emergency help.
The governor said the state has been working hard to implement the new number, which is called “911 of mental health.”
“My administration has always prioritized mental health as much as physical health,” Gov. Beshear he said. “And with the implementation of 988, we’ve made it easier for Kentuckians to get the care they need and deserve.”
The governor plans to join health care providers at a press conference Monday at the Capitol to officially launch 988.
Governor and First Lady Celebrate Christmas in July with Tornado Affected Families:
Gov. Beshear said this week marks seven months since the December tornado that killed 81 Kentuckians and devastated more than 200 miles of land.
“I still remember when we were all trying to repair the damage from the hurricane, and Britainy called out to me while she was walking the dog and said, ‘He has no presents.’ And I said, ‘You mean they lost their Christmas presents?’ and he replied, ‘No, they lost all their gifts, Andy,” said Gov. Beshear. “And from there Britainy put together what I think is the most successful toy ever seen, in just two weeks.”
Since last Friday, the Governor and the First Lady have celebrated Christmas in July and six Kentucky counties affected by the storm. Including Bremen and Dawson Springs.
During the event, the Governor also presented six checks to the following areas to help speed up the expansion of the Internet and improve the quality of local parks.
In Dawson Springs, he awarded $13,827,320 to Pennyrile Rural Electric Cooperative to add high-speed internet to Caldwell, Christian, Lyon, Todd and Trigg;
Also in Dawson Springs, he announced the city’s selection of a $100,000 Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grant to support improvements at Dawson Springs City Park.
Update on COVID-19:
Commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health Dr. Steven Stack gave an update on COVID-19, saying that although hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilator usage are all at the lowest level we’ve seen since the beginning of the pandemic, the virus. still spreading rapidly in Kentucky. About two-thirds of Kentucky’s counties are at moderate or high levels of COVID-19.
“For now, all Kentucky brands continue to be Omicron brands,” Dr. Stack he said. “BA.5 has been the exception across the country for about 65% of all COVID-19 cases, and Kentucky is seeing the same. BA.5 doesn’t seem to be increasing hospitalizations or deaths, but it’s causing an increased risk because previous types offer less protection against BA. 5.”
For greater protection from COVID-19, the Governor and Dr. Stack encouraged unvaccinated Kentuckians to get vaccinated and that Kentuckians who have been vaccinated should be encouraged if they haven’t already.
Nine out of 10 Kentuckians under 60 who died of COVID-19 in the past year were unvaccinated, and two-thirds of Kentuckians over 60 who died of COVID-19 in the past year were unvaccinated.
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