LEXINGTON, Ky. – Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell downplayed yet another injection of federal relief for his home state government, questioning the need on Monday as the economy seeks to rebound from the pandemic of COVID-19.
During a stop in Lexington, McConnell touted federal pandemic aid passed by Congress last year with bipartisan support – when the GOP held the Senate and the White House. The Kentucky senator has rejected the latest round of federal relief championed by Democratic President Joe Biden that recently overtook the united opposition of Republicans in Congress. The Kentucky state government is eventually expected to receive more than $ 2.4 billion from the latest federal package.
“What we did last year was a big bonus for Kentucky on top of what they needed,” McConnell said. “It’s an even bigger bonus. I’m sure they’ll love having it. But I don’t see that they need it.
Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat, said he disagreed with the senator’s remarks. The latest round of aid will boost job growth and modernize infrastructure in Kentucky, Beshear said.
“It’s a question of: do you want a long, difficult recession that hurts Kentuckians, which has more people out of work? Or do you want to invest, create jobs and get out of this pandemic instead of stumbling? Beshear said at a press conference later Monday.
Kentucky’s tax collections have been strong despite the blows suffered by businesses last year during the pandemic. Kentucky’s highest monthly unemployment rate since the start of the pandemic was 16.9% in April 2020. The state’s most recent unemployment figure was the preliminary rate of 5.2% in February – in 1% increase from the rate in February 2020, the last month before COVID-19 cases were reported in Kentucky.
Kentucky’s Republican-led legislature allocated more than $ 1 billion in new federal money to several big-ticket items before ending this year’s session last week. These items included building schools, water and sewage projects, expanding broadband, and paying off a federal loan that kept the unemployment insurance program afloat. State.
Beshear hailed it as a good start to creating thousands of jobs and better positioning Kentucky for the post-pandemic economy. The spending decisions reflected several shared priorities between Beshear and Republican lawmakers, who feuded with the governor as they repeatedly weakened his executive authority.
McConnell did not weigh in on how the state uses the latest federal aid on Monday.
“These are decisions made here at the state level,” he said. “Once we send the money, I’m not going to guess how they spent it. I’m sure they’re happy to have it, by the way. And I’m sure they can’t wait for more.
In addition to allocating federal money, lawmakers in Kentucky recently injected $ 140 million in public funds to support full-time kindergarten. Prior to these decisions, they adopted a state budget of around $ 12 billion at the end of March which was mainly a continuation of the 2020 spending plan.
McConnell on Monday ridiculed the Democrat-backed COVID-19 relief plan for the escalating federal budget deficit, saying, “Enough is enough. We are threatening the future of our country.
“We are not where we were a year ago,” he said. “We’re getting out of this now. “
Federal deficits also skyrocketed during Republican Donald Trump’s presidency, in part due to spending on COVID-19 relief measures and the costs of the 2017 tax cuts that Trump championed.
As he successfully campaigned for re-election last year, McConnell has continuously touted federal relief that has helped healthcare providers, small businesses, education and other sectors in Kentucky.
On Monday, after visiting the University of Kentucky Mass Vaccination Clinic, McConnell promoted the tens of billions of federal dollars spent on COVID-19 vaccine development.
The senator hailed the development of these vaccines as a “modern medical miracle”. McConnell, who has consistently called for wearing masks to curb the spread of the virus, continued to urge people to take the COVID-19 vaccine, including any Republican men reluctant to get the vaccine.
“If we are all really going to get back to normal by this summer, we still have a ways to go here in Kentucky and across America to get these shots in the next few months,” he said. he declares.
Beshear praised McConnell on Monday for “leading by example” in following coronavirus health guidelines and urging COVID-19 vaccinations.