FRANKFORT (AP) — Gov. Andy Beshear on Monday proposed a massive budget increase for Kentucky education, releasing a plan that calls for the state to fully fund pre-kindergarten programs for every 4-year-old.
The Democratic governor said his budget plan includes nearly $2 billion in additional funding in the next two years for pre-K through 12th grade. Beshear revealed his education spending plans days after House Republicans preempted him by introducing their own state spending plan.
Beshear said his plan includes a 12.5% increase in per-pupil funding under SEEK, the state’s main funding formula for K-12 schools. That would amount to an extra $397 million in the next two years, he said.
A cornerstone of Beshear’s plan is to guarantee pre-K learning for every 4-year-old in Kentucky. The cost — $172 million in each year of the next biennium — is “more than affordable,” amounting to a fraction of the state’s massive budget surplus, he said.
“It’s not just something we can afford to do, it is something we must do," the governor said at a news conference. "It is a game changer.”
Beshear said his plan also would fully fund school districts’ costs for student transportation, freeing up local funds for school districts to use for other initiatives.