ASHLAND, Ky. (KT) -- Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear rolled out the first part of his economic and jobs agenda during a campaign stop Wednesday in northeastern Kentucky.
Accompanied by his running mate Jacqueline Coleman, House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook and Rep. Terri Branham Clark, D-Catlettsburg, Beshear unveiled what he terms the first pillar of his “Kitchen Table Agenda,” a comprehensive new economic and jobs plan he says would create good-paying jobs, increase wages and lift up working families across Kentucky, in agritech and advanced manufacturing.
Speaking at the offices of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 248 in Ashland, Beshear said, “We’re focused on creating good-paying jobs of the future, where Kentucky has the opportunity to lead the country. Kentuckians work hard, but our families are still having trouble keeping up with the bills, much less being able to save for retirement or cover the costs of higher education for their kids.”
Beshear said under the administration of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, the median wage in Kentucky is not enough to meet a family's budget and personal income is dropping in several rural counties.
The Governor attacks two of the most important pillars of Kentucky’s rural economies: public education and health care, Beshear said, and he’s failed to put Kentucky workers in the best position possible to compete in a global economy. He pointed out Kentucky is currently ranked the 39th best state to do business by CNBC, with Kentucky’s workforce ranked 40th.
“We must do better for our people by implementing a robust jobs agenda that prioritizes workers — not out-of-state corporations and CEOs. The first plank of this sweeping economic blueprint focuses on creating agritech and advanced manufacturing jobs,” Beshear stated. “Kentucky is uniquely positioned to lead in these sectors of the economy and we’re going to pair our workers with the skills they need to build an economy that works for everyone.”
Beshear’s platform includes:
--Launching Agritech Business Accelerators
--Focusing tax incentives an agritech businesses and advanced manufacturing, and away from expensive incentives for companies that don’t create family-supporting jobs.
--Expanding micro-loan programs statewide aimed at helping small businesses invest in strategic sectors of our economy like agritech and advanced manufacturing.
--Partnering with labor unions to create a fast-track workforce grant program for lower-income adults who are working toward degrees that can fill high-need skills gaps.
--Increasing investment in community colleges and technical schools and ensuring they are preparing students and adults with skills that directly align with the needs of local employers.
Adkins said he looks forward to working with Beshear on creating jobs that pay a living wage, especially in areas that have been hit hard economically like eastern Kentucky.
“We’re going to invest even more in workforce development and help Kentucky families get the education and training they need to thrive in this ever-changing economy,” Adkins said. “Initiatives like those announced today will go a long way to getting us to that point, and I’m proud to support them.”