Republican candidate for governor, Matt Bevin spoke to campaign supporters at Huff Park in Harlan on Wednesday. Bevin answered questions and offered insight about his views on important topics around the area such as coal, the EPA, economy, jobs, teacher’s pensions, education, drugs and same-sex marriage.
Bevin made no secret of his conservative views on topics such as same sex-marriage and government spending. He offered examples and solutions that were innovative and responsible. In a very straight-forward way, he walked spectators through his belief system and explained his plan for Kentucky if he is elected governor.
The big issues of the day were education and coal. Bevin said other countries in the world are building coal fired power plants and the world is using more coal than ever before. As he put it, 90 percent of Kentucky’s and 38 percent of the world’s electricity still comes from coal, yet Kentucky isn’t partaking in any of it because EPA regulation has crippled the economy in the region.
In response to the new emissions regulations imposed on power plants, Bevin said, “We are a nation of laws, and we must abide those laws.” He then went on to say that states should stand on the 10th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, because the EPA and federal government are violating state sovereignty, so those regulations are not laws in most cases and he will not abide anything that isn’t law if it hurts Kentuckians.
Education reform and teacher’s pensions were also a hot topic with Bevin. He explained that teacher’s pension funds are drying up, and they needed to be fixed in order to sustain them. He attributed the problem to how pensions are calculated for newly retired teachers, the age teachers are eligible to retire and that they’re living longer than before. He said some teachers can work for 30 years, and be retired for 40 years or more, which is unsustainable if they make more money in retirement than they did for the majority of the years they were teaching. He offered up a solution he hoped would allow them to receive checks indefinitely.
He pointed out the problems with funding as well. He said places like Louisville received a large portion of funding compared to rural areas, yet schools in the Louisville area were consistently among the worst in the state academically. He said rural areas should receive a fair proportion of the state’s funds, so they could have the same resources as everywhere else in the state.
The statewide drug epidemic was on his agenda as well. He said it costs a lot of money to house those jailed for drug offenses, and if the state invested in treatment facilities then fewer drug users would circulate through the justice system. He said this would save Kentucky money, increase public health and create a better labor pool. He said too many young people can’t pass a drug test for employment, so good paying jobs aren’t being filled by Kentucky employers in certain parts of the state.
Reach Bradley Fields at 606-909-4146 or on Twitter @bradley_HDE