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Beshear seeking school employee raises, universal pre-K in second term


Kentucky School Advocate
December 2023

By Brenna R. Kelly
Staff writer

There will be four more years of the Andy Beshear administration. In the November general election, the incumbent Democratic governor beat Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron by 5 percentage points to win another term in office.

At a press conference the day after the election, Beshear said he will continue to champion public education and will again ask the legislature to fund universal pre-K and teacher raises.

“It is time to get more big things done for our families. That starts with the type of investments that we need in our system of public education,” he said.

Beshear’s budget proposal, which he released in August, includes an 11% raise for all school personnel, including bus drivers and custodial and cafeteria workers. The plan would cost an estimated $1.1 billion, he said.

The budget proposal also includes:

• Fully funding student transportation.

• Fully funding pensions and ensuring no health insurance increase.

• Teacher student loan forgiveness.

• Professional development support.

• Mental health education and support.

• Funding to boost career and technical education.

• Replacing textbooks and instructional resources.

The legislature will begin crafting the two-year budget when it convenes in January. Lawmakers have already said they would prefer raising the SEEK allocation and allow boards to control the amount of any employee raises.

Beshear, in his post-election news conference, said he believes across-the-board raises would help both school employees and the economy.

“For many of these legislators, the school system is the largest employer in the region. And that means if we’re not paying our educators enough, we’re just impoverishing our own communities,” he said. “I mean this is our chance to not only pay teachers closer to what they’re worth, but to boost the economy in each and every one of these areas.”

After the election, the Kentucky Education Association (KEA) said in a statement that its members “once again made the difference in bringing an electoral victory to Gov. Andy Beshear, a champion for public education.”

“This victory serves notice that Kentuckians value our public schools and strongly support our public school educators,” KEA President Eddie Campbell said in the statement.

Cameron, during the primary, had expressed his support for charter schools and private school vouchers; however, during the general election campaign he focused on his “Cameron catch-up plan.”

The plan would have funded an optional 16-week tutoring program, increased phonics-based reading instruction and raised the starting teacher salary to $41,500.

He also wanted to address student behavior and truancy issues. Cameron said his plan already had the Republican legislature’s approval.

Beshear said during the news conference that Cameron called him election night to offer his congratulations.

In his concession speech, Cameron said that “we all want the same thing for our future generations, we want a better Commonwealth, one in which you can ultimately be a shining city on a hill, a model and example for the rest of the nation to follow.”

Beshear said he hoped Kentuckians would come together, end the divisiveness and move the state forward. Beshear also thanked his wife, Britainy, Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman and the voters who re-elected him.

“I want to thank the people, the Commonwealth of Kentucky. We’re getting a lot of really nice emails right now,” he said. “Each and every person out there thank you for believing in us. We believe in you, too.”

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