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Yarmuth Honors Gov. Steve Beshear on House Floor

WASHINGTON – This morning, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) took to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to honor Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear in the closing week of his final term. Video and a transcript of the Congressman’s remarks can be found below:




Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to honor the 61st Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Steve Beshear, whose tenure as Governor comes to a close this week.

Of his many significant accomplishments, none came easily or by happenstance. In fact, national basketball championships for both the Universities of Louisville and Kentucky notwithstanding, it’s tough to think of a less enviable time to walk into the Governor’s mansion.

Within a year of his taking office, the global economy imploded, creating the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes and leading to unemployment as high as 10.7%. The health of our state was dismal with one in five Kentucky adults carrying no health insurance.  And Mother Nature didn’t do him any favors either. During one 11-month span, three presidential disaster declarations were issued for Louisville alone.

To say you wouldn’t want to be the governor to face those challenges is an understatement. To say you’d want Steve Beshear to be your governor addressing those challenges, well, that’s just common sense.

Our recovery didn’t just happen during the tenure of Steve Beshear — it happened because of Steve Beshear.

Because we had a governor who wasn’t concerned with what was popular or politically savvy, he was committed to doing what needed to be done. He said ‘no’ to the calls for European style austerity, and instead, invested in our Commonwealth — in our people, our infrastructure, our education — giving Kentucky’s economy an immediate jolt and keeping our communities and workforce competitive for the long haul.

The results speak for themselves. Today, unemployment is half of what it was during the Great Recession, under five percent for the first time since 2001. Site Selection Magazine says there’s no better state in the nation for economic development. Companies are investing in Kentucky like never before -- $3.7 billion in investment announced just last year. And Kentucky is doing business like never before, with exports of $27.5 billion last year – four times the national average.

And we are building like we haven’t done in a long time. When I say our infrastructure was crumbling, it’s not hyperbole. Bridges were literally falling down. Now, they’re going up. Leaders have been talking about the need for new Ohio River bridges in Louisville for nearly 50 years. But Governor Beshear doesn’t talk the talk, he walks the walk; and I’ll be proud to walk with him across the first of two new Ohio River Bridges for the first time this weekend. 

But it’s his stands that he’ll be most remembered for. If you asked him, Steve would tell you he’s just doing what’s right. But that takes courage, and thankfully Kentucky’s governor has had no shortage of that. He reinstated an executive order prohibiting LGBT discrimination against government workers, made Kentucky the first state in the nation to adopt Common Core and second to adopt Next Generation Science Standards, and when it came to medical care, he refused —absolutely refused — to play politics with the health of his state.

He expanded Medicaid and led the creation of the nation’s most successful health exchange—kynect—and reduced the number of Kentuckians without health insurance from 20.4 percent to 9 percent, the best improvement in the nation. In my district alone, the uninsured rate dropped 81 percent. For the first time, quality, affordable health insurance is a reality for hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians, and it’s thanks to Steve Beshear.

Of course, he’s been working for the people of Kentucky since long before he was a governor, and he never did it alone. Throughout his decades of public service, he has depended on the strength of another great Kentucky leader, his wife and our First Lady, Jane Beshear.

I have been honored to be Steve and Jane’s ally these past eight years, and I’ve been lucky to have them as mine as we worked to revitalize Louisville’s manufacturing sector, address our community’s infrastructure needs, and make sure Kentucky children, veterans, and working families are taken care of.

Over the past 30 years, I’ve had the honor of calling Steve Beshear my Attorney General, my Lieutenant Governor, and now my Governor. But, above all, I’ve been most proud to call him my friend.

In his first inaugural address in 2007, Governor Beshear noted that the path of progress in Kentucky ‘…will involve new thinking and new ideas. It will require cooperation and patience. And it will demand courage.’

Steve, you successfully embraced those new ideas, you promoted cooperation and patience, and you had the courage not only to serve—but to serve us well.

I wish you the very best as you leave public service, and I want to thank you, First Lady Jane Beshear, and your devoted staff for doing the right thing on behalf of the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Kentucky is a stronger, more prosperous, and a far healthier place because of the dedication and work of our Governor, Steve Beshear.

I yield back.