Kentucky Lt. Gov. Coleman steps down as education and workforce secretary

Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman announced last week that she was stepping down from her dual role as secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

In a video statement posted on Twitter, Coleman said she remained committed to serving in the Beshear administration.

“It’ll just look a little different as we respond to the demands of a booming economy,” she said.

Gov. Andy Beshear told reporters at a press conference that Coleman will take on a different role regarding economic development, adding there are so many opportunities in Kentucky he needs help meeting with representatives about them.

“Thankfully, we have a governor and a lieutenant governor,” he said.

Shortly after Beshear and Coleman won the November 2019 election, Beshear appointed the former educator and coach cabinet secretary.

Among the accomplishments she said she was most proud of included waiving the $125 testing fee for people to take the GED exam and chairing a panel to diversify the teacher workforce in the state.

The cabinet had been responsible for the state’s unemployment program, but Beshear moved the program to the state Labor Cabinet a couple months after the COVID-19 pandemic began. The unemployment program was fraught with problems as the state expanded eligibility to file claims with an outdated processing system.

Republicans have criticized the administration for its handling of claims and its inability to ensure all claims were paid properly or respond to hundreds of thousands of inquiries promptly.

Mike Lonergan, the communications director for the Republican Party of Kentucky, said in a statement that Coleman “is a focal point” to the “massive scandal” regarding the unemployment program. He noted a WDRB-TV report from March that found Coleman at least four times contacted the unemployment director to contact applicants who reached out to her.

Deputy Secretary Mary Pat Regan will serve as the acting secretary. She came into state government after working as a national vice president and a Kentucky market president for AT&T. Regan also was active in civic circles, having served as the board chairman of Greater Louisville Inc. – the Metro Chamber of Commerce.

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