Medicaid, unemployment and infrastructure on Beshear’s wish list for Obama

In a letter delivered today to President-elect Barack Obama, Gov. Steve Beshear urged the implementation of “direct fiscal stimulus efforts for states.”

Beshear and other governors have met with Obama, who will be sworn in on Jan. 20, during this week’s National Governors Association conference in Philadelphia to plead for financial help. 

Kentucky and many other states are facing shortfalls during the current fiscal year as revenues have flowed into state coffers more slowly than expected and their residents are drawing more on services as the country faces a recession. 

In the letter to Obama, Beshear asks directly for:

  • Increased federal match rates for Medicaid
  • Funding aid for state unemployment insurance programs
  • Funding for infrastructure projects ready for construction in the near future
  • Federal fiscal relief for states similar to aid provided during the recession in 2002 and 2003.

Beyond requesting direct help for Kentucky, Beshear also asked for the passage of an assistance package for the automobile industry, which he notes employs nearly 82,000 people in the state. 

Beshear closes the letter by saying “now is the time to take bold steps to return our economy to solid footing.”

Beshear will conduct a conference call with reporters at 11:30 CST to talk more about his meeting today with the president-elect.


During a conference call with reporters today, Beshear said Obama indicated that his incoming administration was preparing a relief package to help spur the economy and help state budgets, but has not provided exact details about what the package should include.

“The clear message that he gave to us … was that help was on the way, that they fully appreciate where states are in this crisis, and that the federal government is going to have to partner with states,” Beshear said. 

Beshear had some one-on-one time with Obama Monday night, during which he outlined what Kentucky would like to see from the federal government. 

“I believe all the governors left with an increased amount of hope that things will be able to be worked through with the federal government’s help,” Beshear said. 

While federal assistance might offer some short-term relief, the legislature will still need to address measures to balance the state’s budget that is currently heading for a year-end shortfall this summer, Beshear said. 

“Regardless of the components of that (federal) package, we are going to have to proceed to put a balanced budget together and the first priority will be to cut spending,” Beshear said. 

Read more about Beshear’s meeting with Obama and what local legislator think about federal infrastructure help in Wednesday’s Messenger-Inquirer.


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