The Paducah Innovation Hub welcomed two people Friday to be seen on this year’s gubernatorial ballots, as current Gov. Andy Beshear and Republican candidate Kelly Craft took tours of the building.

Beshear spoke to a number of Paducah Head Start teachers and other representatives of the Paducah Independent School District and heard from Head Start Director Kristy Lewis about the new building scheduled to open this fall.

He cited grim statistics in making his case for a 5% pay raise for teachers and other public school employees. Kentucky has 11,000 teacher vacancies and ranks 44th in starting pay for teachers.

“It is time that the state steps up and does more to ensure that we can win this competition for talent,” Beshear said in a speech at the state Capitol. “And knowing that every teacher is irreplaceable

Beshear added that his Education First plan would raise teachers’ salaries by 5%, fully funded by the state, on top of what the school districts do.

Craft spoke to an Advanced Placement government class at the Paducah Innovation Hub, talking about her experiences as the U.S. ambassador to Canada and then as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Beshear, who is running for reelection this year, has consistently made improved teacher pay a policy priority. He said the state should dip into its vast budget surpluses to make it happen during this year’s 30-day legislative session

Beshear has made state-funded preschool for 4-year-olds another education priority, but that proposal hasn’t made any headway with lawmakers.