Federal Pandemic Aid Will Provide Running Water to Some Poor Parts of Kentucky: Governor

Democratic Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear plans to funnel portions of his state's federal aid into providing some poorer parts of Kentucky with access to clean drinking water at home for the first time, the Associated Press reported.

Beshear spoke about the undertaking Monday, which goes hand-in-hand with broadband and wastewater projects set to spend millions of federal dollars.

The governor said that while all of the state will benefit from the federal funds, some rural and urban areas that have been neglected will receive extra care, the AP reported. This will help address the basic human needs of some state residents while also boosting the state to potentially see more economic growth, Beshear said.

"If we are at the cusp of a new era of prosperity, and I believe we are, we've got to make sure everybody's included," he said. "That's parts of eastern Kentucky and western Kentucky that are far too often left out. It's certain neighborhoods in Lexington and Louisville that are far too often left out. So you do see some intentionality there in making sure that we're lifting everybody up."

Some of the highest poverty rates in the U.S. are centered in parts of Kentucky where people can lack some basic living services, the AP reported. The federal aid will provide about 125 residents in eastern Kentucky access to potable water service and running water to several homes in western Kentucky for the first time, according to Beshear's office.

"I've had the blessing of being able to present those dollars and meet and hug families that have never had clean drinking water in their homes," Beshear said Monday.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Kentucky COVID Relief
Kentucky is funneling portions of its federal aid into providing some poorer parts of the state with access to clean drinking water at home for the first time, according to Democratic Governor Andy Beshear. Above, Beshear speaks at the announcement that Ford Motor Company and SK Innovations are building two electric battery factories in Glendale. Timothy D. Easley/AP Photo

The Democratic governor recounted meeting Kentuckians who for the first time will have access to clean drinking water from their home taps, thanks to projects backed by the federal assistance. Wastewater projects will attract companies and jobs to industrial sites, he said, while homes blacked out from the internet will someday tap into wireless service thanks to federal help.

"Everything in [Washington] D.C. gets caught up in Democrat or Republican, red or blue," Beshear told the AP in an interview conducted over Zoom. "And the right way to see this is: Clean drinking water isn't red or blue, it's a basic human right. The infrastructure that allows for that next great employer to come, a good job, isn't red or blue. It's just good for our families."

Beshear and Republican lawmakers clashed frequently during his first two years as governor, but they agreed on spending more than $1 billion of Kentucky's allotment of federal pandemic aid earlier this year. Beshear said Monday that Kentucky still has another $1.1 billion to allocate from the aid package known as the American Rescue Plan.

The momentum of recent successes shows Kentucky is going from being "a flyover state" to a destination for economic growth, Beshear said.

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Beshear's administration says Kentucky has registered its best year for economic development growth, exceeding $10 billion in private-sector investments — led by the decision by Ford Motor Company and its battery partner to build twin battery plants at Glendale, Kentucky.

As a Democrat in a bright red state, Beshear stressed bipartisan cooperation in doling out federal aid and setting spending priorities on education, health care, economic development and human services. The state is also sitting on a massive surplus heading into the 2022 legislative session, when the Republican-dominated legislature will pass the next state budget.

It creates more opportunities for transformational changes, he said.

"Our job in government, once elected, shouldn't be trying to move this state to the right or to the left, but just to move it forward," the governor said. "We are sitting at a once-in-a-generation opportunity to push Kentucky forward economically in education, in health care, in ways that we'd always dreamed of. We cannot fumble this opportunity through partisan rancor. It's time to put our potential progress over party and certainly our people over politics."

Kentucky COVID Funds
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and Republican lawmakers were able to agree on spending more than $1 billion of Kentucky’s federal pandemic aid earlier this year. Above, Kentucky Speaker David Osborne addresses members of the House during the opening day session of the state legislature in Frankfort, on Jan. 5, 2021. Timothy D. Easley/AP Photo