May 22, 2019

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Kentucky, Latest News

DGA Statement on Kentucky GOP Gubernatorial Primary Results

Today, Democratic Governors Association Executive Director Noam Lee released the following statement on the results from Kentucky’s GOP primary election for governor:

“After barely eking it out of his own party’s primary as a sitting incumbent, Matt Bevin enters the general election damaged and deeply unpopular. Kentucky voters sent a resounding message tonight to Matt Bevin: his gross mismanagement at the expense of everyday Kentuckians is near its expiration date.

“Bevin’s inability to unite the Republican base stems from his record of sabotaging Kentuckians’ health care, attacking public education funding, and criticizing teachers. His failed leadership has earned him the distinction of being the nation’s most unpopular governor. With a sluggish economic recovery, constant chaos, and sinking poll numbers, Bevin is in for a long and bruising campaign. Kentuckians are ready to turn the page from the failed Bevin era.”

For more on the DGA’s outlook in Kentucky, see our pre-primary memo here.

BACKGROUND:

  • In 2018, Bevin Visited D.C. to Urge the Senate to Repeal the Affordable Care Act. According to McClatchy, “He [Bevin] argued that a replacement plan would make it easier for governors to determine care. ‘We’re the innovators,’ he said. The plan would eliminate the act’s Medicaid expansion and the subsidies that allow people to buy coverage would be converted into block grants for states.” [McClatchy, 6/20/18]
  • Bevin Health Care Plan Would Have Caused 100,000 Kentuckians to Lose Coverage. According to the New York Times, “Kentucky will be the first state to require many of its Medicaid recipients to work or face losing their benefits after the Trump administration approved its plan on Friday. […] Under its plan, Kentucky will also require many adults who aren’t elderly or disabled to pay premiums of $1 to $15 a month, depending on their income. And it will disenroll people from Medicaid for up to six months if they fail to report changes in income or work status. Those who qualified for Medicaid under the Obamacare expansion will also have to “earn” dental and vision benefits, which they have been able to access freely until now, through activities like taking a financial literacy course or getting a GED. The Bevin administration has estimated that the plan will result in 100,000 fewer Medicaid recipients after five years and save $2.4 billion, mostly in federal Medicaid funds.” [New York Times, 1/12/18]
  • Bevin Proposed Efforts to Slash Public Education in His FY2019 Budget. The Courier-Journal’s five takeaways on K-12 education from Bevin’s budget address: “1. SEEK funding is safe: It will hold steady at $3,981 per-pupil. But SEEK funding still hasn’t bounced back from pre-Recession levels, so flat funding — once adjusted for inflation — can be considered a cut. 2. Millions less for school buses: Bevin’s budget provides for only $87 million in pupil transportation funding for fiscal 2019, down from nearly $226 million in fiscal 2018. That means local districts — which are already picking up nearly half the tab when it comes to transportation costs — will have to pay for an even greater share. 3. Scratch ticket sales matter: Bevin said 100 percent of state lottery revenues will be put toward education. In fiscal 2017, the state saw more than $1 billion in sales, with a payback of $251.6 million. 4. Dozens of programs zeroed out: There are a number of education-related programs that will receive no funding under Bevin’s budget, including a teacher quality and diversity program, an Appalachian tutoring program and the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program (KTIP). 5. Bevin came for JCPS: He criticized the district for holding onto ‘hundreds of millions’ in reserves while the state grapples with a budget crisis. He also claimed 600 administrators who ‘never’ work with kids are making $100,000 per year.” [Courier-Journal, 1/16/18]
  • Republican Legislators Overrode Bevin’s Budget Veto, Approved Budget Increasing Public Education Funding. According to the Associated Press, “With the chants of hundreds of teachers ringing in their ears, Kentucky lawmakers voted on Friday to override the Republican governor’s veto of a two-year state budget that increases public education spending with the help of a more than $480 million tax increase. The votes came as thousands of teachers rallied at the Capitol, forcing more than 30 school districts to close as the state continued the chorus of teacher protests across the country. The two-year state operating budget includes record new spending for public education, fueled by a 50-cent increase in the cigarette tax and a 6 percent sales tax on some services, including home and auto repairs.” [Associated Press, 4/13/18]
  • Bevin Attacked Teachers as “Selfish” and “Short-Sighted” for Protesting Cuts to Their Benefits. According to the Courier-Journal, “Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin slammed teachers for being ‘selfish and short-sighted’ for protesting policies in the pension reform bill. ‘If they get what they wish for they will not have a pension system for the younger people who are still working, and that to me is remarkably selfish and short-sighted,’ Bevin said on a Campbellsville radio program on Wednesday.” [Courier-Journal, 3/4/18]
  • Kentucky’s Per-Capita Personal Income was $39,393 in 2017, Ranking 47th in the Nation; Lower Than All Bordering States Except for West Virginia. According to the  Herald Leader, “Kentucky workers have seen their paychecks grow more than 12 percentage points slower than the national average. Wage and salary growth in non-agriculture jobs in Kentucky rose 36 percent from the second quarter of 2009 to the fourth quarter of 2017, compared to 48.6 percent for the nation, the report said. The state’s per-capita personal income was $39,393 in 2017, ranking 47th in the nation. It was lower than all bordering states except West Virginia.” [Herald Leader, 9/10/18]