FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Gov. Andy Beshear announced Thursday that his administration is moving forward with a merger of Kentucky’s education and labor cabinets.

The Democratic governor said the current arrangement makes it difficult to remain competitive for some federal grants and also creates challenges with meeting certain federal standards.

Beshear also said that Kentucky’s pandemic-stressed unemployment insurance system “needs to be a part of a larger, more robust cabinet” and insisted that the merger would give the state “a chance for cross training, and more resiliency,” if Kentucky were to face something like the coronavirus pandemic in the future.

Like other states, Kentucky was flooded with record numbers of claims for jobless assistance caused by the coronavirus. Many of the state’s residents waited for months for jobless claims to be processed.

The merger requires legislative approval from the state’s General Assembly, where Republicans hold veto-proof supermajorities in both chambers.

“I believe the legislature should want to give this governor and others the tools that they ultimately need to address the situations they face,” Beshear said. “Certainly asking for less cabinets as opposed to more should be something that falls into the government philosophy of the majority, but we’ll be talking with them.”

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