Public Education Receives Historic Investment in Governor’s Budget

During what Gov. Beshear described as “a booming economy and record economic success,” the announcement of his budget today detailed an emphasis on public education.

On Dec. 6, PLD Lamplighter held an education roundtable at Dunbar. Attendees included Dr. Demetrus Liggins, Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, and teachers and students. Gov. Beshear showed a photo of the event during his Facebook Live address concerning his 2022 budget.

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On Dec. 6, PLD Lamplighter held an education roundtable at Dunbar. Attendees included Dr. Demetrus Liggins, Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, and teachers and students. Gov. Beshear showed a photo of the event during his Facebook Live address concerning his 2022 budget.

On Jan. 10, Governor Andy Beshear released a part of his budget proposal entailing his plans for Kentucky education. The governor said that the budget was crafted through “extensive consultation” with the Kentucky Department of Education and speaks to his efforts leading an “education first administration.”

It is already being appreciated by Kentucky educators.

“The budget will remove obstacles for the young students that will pay dividends throughout their lives and will help teachers in return,” social studies teacher Mickey Campbell said.

Many at the administrative level also agree that the budget is an opportunity for Kentucky’s future.

“I think the Governor’s budget is one of the greatest presentations that this Commonwealth will ever see for the future,” Dr. Houston Barber, superintendent of Frankfort Independent Schools, said.

In contrast to the earlier than expected House budget proposal, the Governor’s budget starts at the earliest age, fully funding universal pre-K for all four-year-olds and funding full-day kindergarten for the first time ever.

The house budget allocated $0 toward universal pre-school.

“My budget adds record funding, nearly $2 billion dollars in additional funding, over the next biennium, pre-K through 12th grade,” Gov. Beshear said.

The GOP-led House budget does reflect some of Beshear’s priorities, but not all.

Students and educators alike have said that mental health should be a post-pandemic priority. In the Governor’s budget, $6.2 million dollars will be allocated each year to eight regional social-emotional learning institutes that will give educators access to the best training.

It also includes two new grant programs that will provide wraparound services to students in need and expanded Family Resource and Youth Resource Center (FRYSC) funding for the 874 centers that are currently serving 650,000 students and their families.

The house budget allocated $0 toward social-emotional learning assistance.

Our schools desperately needed another shot of hope that things were going to get better and this budget proposal delivers just that.”

— Dr. Jason Glass

The hope is that this budget will reset and renew educators who say that the past two years have been grueling.

“Our schools desperately needed another shot of hope that things were going to get better and this budget proposal delivers just that,” Kentucky Commissioner of Education Dr. Jason Glass said.

One way this “shot of hope” can happen is through the proposed minimum 5% pay increase to all school personnel. This would be in addition to the regular salary schedule increases for certified staff.

“Our teachers are not paid enough,” Governor Beshear said. According to the National Education Association, Kentucky ranks 42nd in the nation at starting salaries.

He also proposed $26.3 million dollars each year in student loan forgiveness for teachers and the full funding of pensions and medical benefits.

During the press conference, Crystal Culp, a 25-year veteran, emphasized that “a teacher’s effectiveness lies in what they know.” She said that teachers need current and reliable instructional resources to meet the needs of a unique and diverse student population.

The budget will also fully fund transportation and restore funding for educator professional development.

Lori Baker of Knox County is an 18-year elementary school teacher who was also featured at the press conference. She said she was grateful for the proposed wage increase. “We’re not going to have to have a second job–we always have to have a second job,” she said. “I just hope and pray that when these things are proposed that they will pass and be approved.”

Our teachers are not paid enough.”

— Governor Andy Beshear

The House’s proposed budget only encouraged an “increase” to teacher salaries with no numerical value attached, although it does provide a proposal to raise salaries in other areas. For example, a 6% raise to deputy circuit court clerks, a $15,000 pay increase to state police troopers, and an $8,000 increase for dispatchers.

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman said there were three questions guiding the budget, “Does it adopt a kid-first mentality, does it take care of the people who take care of our kids, does it provide resources necessary for our schools to do what we ask them to do.”

The Governor’s budget does not require tax increases or funding by local boards of education. 

The full unveiling of the complete budget will be released on Thursday, Jan. 13. The Senate will have its own budget proposal and many changes are likely to be made to all versions before a final budget is agreed upon.

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Highlights

5% salary increase for all school personnel in addition to already scheduled step increases with a 0% increase in insurance premiums

Fully fund universal Pre-k for all 4-year-olds and fully fund all-day kindergarten

Student loan Forgiveness for teachers up to $3,000 per year for five years for a total of a $15,000 maximum forgiveness

Regional Coaches and Training Centers for K-5 Literacy 

16.9% increase in SEEK funding 

Fully funds transportation for all districts

Provides $22.9 million for Professional Development, Textbooks, and Instructional Resources

$6.2 million for Mental Health and Social-Emotional Learning Institutes

$97.4 million for renovations of 11 local Career and Technical Centers

Restoration of Library Grants

$6 million funding for FRYSCs

12% increase in higher education funding

$60 million for funding to support research programs and graduate student education at Kentucky higher education institutions, often referred to as “Bucks for Brains”

$500 million for Asset Preservation at state higher education institutions 

$23 million to fund Kentucky State University