FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear will likely call state lawmakers to the Capitol for a special legislative session in the wake of deadly flooding in eastern Kentucky, the governor announced on Wednesday.
What You Need To Know
- Gov. Andy Beshear will likely call a legislative session to address flood relief in eastern Kentucky
- Beshear said the session would be needed "in the months to come, if not sooner" to craft a relief package akin to the one passed by the General Assembly in response to the Dec. 2021 tornado outbreak
- Lawmakers aren't due back in Frankfort until January
- Kentucky currently boasts a $2.7 billion budget reserve
The special session, if called by the Democratic governor, would allow the General Assembly to craft a relief package for eastern Kentucky communities that need help rebuilding from last week's catastrophic flooding.
Shortly following last December's tornado outbreak in western Kentucky that killed 77 people, the legislature passed a $200 million relief package.
Kentucky's budget surplus signals lawmakers can likely afford to be as generous, if not more, this time around. Kentucky boasts a historic $2.7 billion "rainy day" budget reserve thanks in large part to COVID-19 pandemic assistance from the federal government.
With lawmakers not scheduled to return to Frankfort until January, Beshear said the need for a special session is palpable and desired from both parties.
“I think it’s going to be needed,” Beshear said during a Wednesday media briefing. “We’re working on it right now. We’ve only heard strong willingness from our legislators, both from the region and outside of it.”
The financial needs in eastern Kentucky have become increasingly evident as waters recede and debris is removed. Hundreds of homes and businesses were washed away. School districts in the region are trying to clean up and recover as the school year nears. Damage to critical infrastructure including water facilities has left thousands without access to clean water. All of that can quickly add up to millions in desperately-needed relief funding.
Beshear said counties and school districts are already feeling the pain.
"School districts are already contracting to clean up, to haul debris, and we need to be there for them," he said Wednesday. "We can’t let a school system go broke, or a city or a county go broke, because of the amount of time it may take for them to be reimbursed.”
President Joe Biden has declared a federal disaster to direct relief money to counties flooded after 8 to 10 1/2 inches (20 to 27 centimeters) of rain fell in just 48 hours in parts of eastern Kentucky, southern West Virginia and western Virginia.