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Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed a Republican-backed measure that would end the COVID-19 state of emergency. Image courtesy of video provided by Ky. Governor's office. March 16, 2022. 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed a Republican-backed measure that would end the COVID-19 state of emergency early.

In a video statement Wednesday, Beshear said Kentuckians stand to lose extra food stamp benefits provided by the federal government to states that have a virus-related state of emergency in place.

"Unfortunately, our General Assembly, through what's called Joint Resolution 150, has tried to end our state of emergency for the COVID pandemic that would cut off all these extra benefits and take food directly off the tables of half a million Kentuckians who desperately need it," Beshear said. "It cut about $50 million coming to those Kentuckians that goes through our small grocery stores and small business that help those businesses that also had a tough time during this pandemic."

When the state's Republican-dominated legislature finished work on the measure last week, Beshear condemned the measure as “politics at its worst.”

"I believe that given we have zero statewide restrictions, and we haven't for six months, all this resolution does is hurt these folks by all this extra food aid while doing absolutely nothing else," Beshear said. "For that reason, I am vetoing Joint Resolution 150, and I'm urging our state legislature not to override the veto."

Before signing the veto, Beshear said he is driven by faith to make sure children and senior citizens receive money for food.

"It comes down to this simple question: Do you want our struggling seniors and kids to be able to afford enough food, as we navigate out of this pandemic?" he said. "I certainly do."

State Senate President Robert Stivers said last week that the resolution states that lawmakers have no intent to "impair or delay" the state's ability to receive pandemic-related federal funds. Stivers suggested another potential remedy for the extended food benefits through the emergency regulation process.

"If the governor needs something from the legislature, he still has time to come to us and we have time to respond," Stivers said in a statement last week.

As the resolution moved through the Senate and House, Republican lawmakers trumpeted it as a signal that life is getting back to normal after the long fight against the pandemic. But some Democratic lawmakers had expressed concerns that the resolution could inflict damage.

As of February, about 544,000 low-income Kentuckians qualified for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Because of the pandemic, the federal government has provided about $50 million more in monthly SNAP benefits to Kentucky, according to Dustin Pugel, a senior policy analyst with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.

But the legislature's action on the resolution would cause the average benefit of $243 a month to drop by about $100, Pugel said. The federal government can only provide the extra benefits to states with an emergency declaration related to COVID-19, he said.

“It's seniors with fixed incomes and the working poor and their families who will be seeing their benefits shrink the most,” Pugel said.

Copyright 2022 WDRB Media. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All Rights Reserved.