GOP Stepped on Beshear’s Budget Toes, But the Governor is Getting a Week of Media Attention

Gov. Andy Beshear may have had his toes stepped on by Republicans in the House of Representatives when they broke with protocol introducing their version of the two-year state budget last week, but the Democratic governor is making this a week of the press – introducing his budget bit-by-bit before he unveils the full plan later this week.

On Thursday, Gov. Beshear will officially introduce his vision in the form of a two-year state spending plan in an address to members of the House and Senate in the state Capitol. But before the address, Beshear is ensuring each portion of his version of the spending plan is splashed across the state’s newspapers, websites, televisions, and radios with press conferences held every day.

Republican lawmakers control the purse strings and can effectively pass whatever spending plan they want without input from the governor and without his approval. (They have the votes to override any veto he offers) On Friday, House Republicans broke with tradition and attempted to blunt the Democratic Governor’s budget address by releasing their budget that promised: “record funding for education, increases for human services, infrastructure, and focus on justice needs.”

This week started with Beshear attempting to one-up the GOP by calling for an even more historic budget regarding education spending. Beshear’s plan rolled out in a nearly hour-long press conference to reporters in Frankfort and streamed online, asking for $2 billion to be spent on Pre-K through 12th-grade education.

Politicians could be looking to other states like Virginia, where education became the central issue of the 2021 gubernatorial campaign. In Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear made education, specifically backing teachers a central part of his 2019 campaign against then-incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin, R-Kentucky. Beshear pressed his advantage that year using the group that had been maligned by Bevin and winning the election by just over 5,000 votes.

On Tuesday afternoon, Beshear will hold another press conference promising to unveil improvements and investments related to infrastructure in economic development and tourism “that will make Kentucky a national leader.”

In seeking to blunt Beshear’s vision Republicans may have given him the motivation to use his bully pulpit to push expectations in each area of funding outside of where the GOP feel comfortable or even have the resources. By speaking loudest, whatever happens, Beshear is seeking to make himself the leader to the people of Kentucky, regardless of how the members of the House and Senate feel about him.