FRANKFORT, Ky. — Democrats in Frankfort wanted $400 million for “Hero Pay” bonuses for people like nurses, paramedics, grocery store employees and others deemed “essential” workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What You Need To Know

  • A proposal to give essential workers a bonus failed to gain traction during the legislative session this year

  • Gov. Andy Beshear called on lawmakers to pass so-called “Hero Pay” during the final two days of session next week

  • Lawmakers will come back to override Beshear’s vetoes of several bills and pass any last-minute legislation April 13 and April 14

“My goodness, we look at the last two years, especially the scariest moments in the beginning where we were asking people to continue to go to work when the virus, in the beginning, had almost a ten percent mortality rate in some places,” Gov. Andy Beshear said. “We didn’t have treatments, and you could bring it home to your family.”

And despite Gov. Beshear’s support, the expense didn’t make it into the budget.

Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) said Republicans couldn’t get on the same page with Democrats about who should qualify.

“There really wasn’t the ability to define it in one sector or another,” he said. “So let’s try to create a better, broad-based system that everybody would see benefits from it, which comes into tax reduction.”

The tax reduction Stivers is talking about is an income tax cut lawmakers passed before the veto break.

Stivers said it’ll give people more money and entice others to move here.

“Where are people moving to? They’re moving to states that don’t have an income tax,” he said.

Gov. Beshear vetoed the income tax bill on Friday and said he’s still reading over the budget lawmakers sent him, but there’s only so much he can do, and he said essential workers deserve that bonus.  

“But I think the leadership of the General Assembly disagrees,” Gov. Beshear said. “I think it’s really disappointing.”

Lawmakers return on April 13 and April 14 to override vetoes and pass last-minute bills before adjourning for the year.