Gov. Steve Beshear was fired up as he delivered his State of the Commonwealth address last night.
Before a joint session of the Kentucky General Assembly, Beshear displayed energy and confidence, despite rumors he was battling the bug that has hit many Kentuckians. Nonetheless he was at the top of his speech-making game.
For his last and perhaps the longest of his Commonwealth addresses, Beshear touted his record of accomplishments and spelled out what he would like to see lawmakers do in the 2015 legislative session. Those issues include education, healthcare, heroin, public private partnerships, and childcare to name just a few.
He also talked about the Affordable Care Act in this very public of forums – unlike some Democrats who chose to avoid the subject during the 2014 election cycle. Beshear said he seized the opportunity presented by federal reform to help Kentucky’s uninsured population:
There was immediate pushback from the Republican side of aisle. It’s an indication that Obamacare and the expansion of Medicaid in Kentucky could become a major issue in this year’s gubernatorial campaign.
Republican candidate and state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said:
“As part of his State of the Commonwealth, our current governor decided to focus a large portion of his speech on Obamacare in Kentucky. To be exact, he referred to Obamacare as a “transformative solution,” to which my Democrat opponent [Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway] applauded. Apparently they have not spoken to the Kentuckians that I have spoken to over the last year. Middle class people from all across Kentucky have lost their health care plan and have seen their health care premiums increase, sometimes by upward of 40 percent. Furthermore, Kentucky businesses have been forced to cut jobs because of the astronomical compliance costs of Obamacare.
“I also find it very troubling that the current governor dismissed the looming costs of the Medicaid expansion, which the next governor of Kentucky will inevitably have to address. The federal Medicaid reimbursement rate begins dropping in just a couple of years, costing Kentucky taxpayers $60 million in the next biennium. By 2022, the Medicaid expansion will put taxpayers on the hook for $250 million. Kentucky cannot afford Obamacare and Kentucky cannot afford a gubernatorial candidate who supports it.”
Of course there will be other reaction to the governor’s speech. I’m sure the hallways of the state Legislative Annex are buzzing with comments today.
And if you listen closely enough, you just might hear some gubernatorial election conversation, too.