Jacquelin Coleman AP.jpeg

Kentucky Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman look on as Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear, left, addresses the media before the Democratic Bean Dinner in Gilbertsville, Ky., Friday, Aug. 2, 2019. Coleman says she’s pregnant. With her husband standing by her side, Coleman said Friday night that their baby girl is due in February. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman is stepping down as secretary of the state’s Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, she announced Thursday.

Gov. Andy Beshear said during his regular COVID-19 news conference that Coleman, who has served as the cabinet’s secretary since taking office in 2019, will take a greater day-to-day role in economic development throughout the state with “so much opportunity out there right now.”

He cited Ford’s recent decision to open a $5.8 billion battery plant for electric vehicles in Hardin County by 2025 as an example of such economic development opportunities for Kentucky.

“We need more than one of me to make sure that we realize every future game changer,” Beshear said. “… We're excited about everything the lieutenant governor brings to the table. You're going to be seeing much, much more of Lt. Gov. Coleman.”

Coleman called the opportunity to serve simultaneously as lieutenant governor and cabinet secretary “the honor of a lifetime.”

“My focus as lieutenant governor and my commitment to the Beshear-Coleman administration remains the same, it'll just look a little different as we respond to the demands of a booming economy,” she said in a video statement during Beshear’s news conference.

“As the governor likes to say, our time is here and our future is now. Seizing this moment is critical to building a better Kentucky for all of our families.”

Coleman said she was proud of the cabinet's accomplishments during her time as secretary, such as creating a free GED testing program, expanding broadband internet access, developing the Commonwealth Education Continuum to help some of the state's most vulnerable students, spending $1 million in cabinet workforce money to relaunch the Kentucky Academy for Equity in Teaching and hosting regional student mental health summits throughout Kentucky.

"There is so much work to be done in the education and workforce development arena to support an economy that is on fire," she said. "While I am grateful for the opportunity to serve in a dual role in the administration, I know that seeing these commitments through requires a laser-like focus."

Kentucky's Education and Workforce Development Cabinet has also seen its share of trouble during Coleman's time as secretary as thousands of Kentuckians lost work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The flood of unemployment claims overwhelmed the state's unemployment insurance program, which was under the cabinet's purview at the time.

Tens of thousands of claims went unfilled for months, and Beshear ultimately moved the unemployment insurance program to the Kentucky Labor Cabinet and hired an outside accounting firm to help the state work through its backlog of unemployment claims.

Deputy Secretary Mary Pat Regan will lead the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet as acting secretary, Coleman said.

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