by GIL MCCLANAHAN
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WCHS) — Twenty-nine coal-producing counties in Kentucky are receiving a total of $74 million from the state's Coal Severance Tax Fund.
"It is nearly double what it was last year. It is the largest amount in 10 years," Gov. Andy Beshear said.
Some of those 29 counties are in Eastern Kentucky. The money comes from state taxes on coal companies and are based on the price of coal.
"We need the capacity. We need the power on the grid, and so right now we need all forms of energy here in Kentucky. we shouldn't be retiring any of them," Beshear said.
Some of the coal-producing counties are still recovering from flooding and tornado damage and this money can help in the recovery process.
"What this means for these communities is transformational," Beshear said. "Some of them are getting $1 million, two and even $3 million more than last year. After flooding or in the west after tornadoes, the need for those dollars has never been greater."
The governor's office sent Eyewitness News reaction to the news from Union County and Letcher County.
"Our coal severance tax here in Letcher County is vital for us providing the services to the residents of Letcher County and is crucial to us moving forward," Letcher County Judge-Executive Terry Adams said.
In Union County, some of the money is going to renovations to public facilities.
"Soon we will begin our remodel of the Renaissance Corner that will serve our county as an event venue and farmer's market," Union County Judge-Executive Adam O'Nan said.
The governor also spoke about other good economic news, announcing just last week the state's credit rating was increased by Standard and Poor's, to "A-plus."
"It also means everybody's pension every teacher, police officer, firefighter are safer than they've been in decades," he said. "Let's give credit to everyone including Republicans, absolutely. This is everybody who worked towards this."
Beshear said he hopes all the money collected by the coal severance program will go back to Kentucky's 29 coal-producing counties, but that will require action by the General Assembly.
To see a breakdown of how much money each of the 29 counties received, click here.