FRANKFORT – (KT) Gov. Andy Beshear delivered his third State of the Commonwealth address Wednesday night before a joint session of the Kentucky House and Senate, addressing such topics as economic development, natural disasters, and, of course, COVID-19. 

“I am here to report that the State of our Commonwealth is strong,” he told the lawmakers.  “And I am confident, even certain, that our time, Kentucky’s time, is now.”

Beshear said the Commonwealth is strong, because we are strong.  “While they may knock us down, no tornado, no pandemic, no flood, no ice storm can break us. Because we do not break.”

While still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left more than 12,000 Kentuckians dead, he also noted that 2021 was bookended by natural disasters, “With devastating storms and historic flooding in January and February, and then the deadly tornado outbreaks in December.” 

Beshear said he will work with lawmakers to help those affected by the tornadoes. 

“I am working with House and Senate members on fast-track legislation to help our impacted families,” he said.  “This legislation directs $150 million to help our communities rebuild.  Another $50 million would go to the region’s schools to help them recover and get them ready to provide the best possible education to the kids there. It provides additional tools to bring and keep jobs in these communities. And it shows that we – Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate, Executive and Legislative branches – will stand with these families.

“So, I want every family and community touched by these storms to know that I am with you, the General Assembly is with you, and the Commonwealth of Kentucky is with you, today, tomorrow and however long it takes. We will rebuild. Every structure, every life.”

2021 was a record-breaking year for economic development, Beshear said.  “We attracted a record $11.2 billion in private-sector investments.  Even better, these investments will create more than 18,000 quality jobs for Kentucky families. In September, we landed the largest single investment this state has ever seen. At nearly $6 billion and 5,000 new jobs, Ford Motor Company and its partner, SK Innovation, are going to build the nation’s largest electric vehicle battery plants right here in Kentucky.”

He talked about a conversation with Bill Ford Jr., Ford’s executive chair, the day of the battery plants announcement.  “He sat in my office and said, ‘Andy, this is the biggest step in the auto industry since the Model T. This is the biggest investment Ford has ever made, and we are making it in Kentucky.’”

In his closing remarks, the governor said, “Folks, our time is here, and our future is now.  But for us to achieve our destiny we have to embrace it and work for it.  President Abraham Lincoln, a hero to this state and this country, said it best: ‘You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.’”