By John David Dyche
Despite polls putting him slightly behind, Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin may win and be Kentucky’s next governor. What will he try to do if elected?
Bevin frequently refers to his Blueprint for a Better Kentucky. But even after lots of articles, columns, debates, forums, interviews, profiles, and tweets, Bevin and his Blueprint still leave lots of questions unanswered.
It is incredibly hard to pin Bevin down. He is evasive, fluent in conservative buzz words, and does not blanch at denying his own words.
Here is yet another more attempt to get some straight answers from Bevin. These questions come right out of his Blueprint.
Bevin calls for a gradual decrease in the state personal and corporate income taxes. “Any short-term losses to the state treasury would be more than made up for over time from the compounded economic growth that would result from a consistent reduction in tax rates,” Bevin says.
Where are the specifics? To what rates would he reduce income taxes? Over what period of time? What would the short-term losses to the state treasury be?
Where is the supporting data for the claim that economic growth would more than make up for revenue losses over time? What would he cut and by how much until those losses are made up?
Bevin says he will significantly reduce many tax exemptions that cost Kentucky nearly $10 billion annually. Isn’t eliminating these exemptions the same as increasing taxes? Whose taxes will he raised this way?
According to Bevin’s Blueprint, new state employees would go into a 401-K style defined contribution retirement plan. But wouldn’t this exacerbate the underfunding of the state’s existing defined benefit pension plans that are already in crisis? What transition costs the state will incur?
The Blueprint calls for current state employees to “make increased pension contributions.” How big will those increased contributions be?
Bevin wants to reduce the size of the state workforce to “pre-recession levels.” Isn’t it already there? To what level will he cut? Who will lose their jobs and what services will be affected?
Another Blueprint idea is “liquidating” government “land, property, and other resources” and returning the proceeds to the people. Such as? State parks? Other?
Bevin says Kentucky must withdraw from the Common Core academic standards. With what standards will he replace them? What will the development and transition costs be?
Without actually using the word, Bevin apparently advocates education vouchers. He says parents “should be given the right to decide how their children’s education dollars should be used, whether toward a public school, a charter school, a private school, or a home school.”
How much will each student receive from the state for such use? How will this voucher system work?
No issue has produced more confusion than Bevin’s position on the state’s expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare. Here’s what his Blueprint says: “The Medicaid expansion enacted under Obamacare is unaffordable for the taxpayers of Kentucky and should be repealed.”
Bevin has been all over the board in attempting to explain this. But repeal clearly implies that those with incomes at 138 percent of the federal poverty level who became eligible for Medicaid because of its expansion under Obamacare will no longer be eligible.
What happens to them and their healthcare under Bevin? How do they get and pay for coverage on the federal exchange (since he also pledges to end the state exchange) if they cannot afford it even with a federal subsidy? Is it alright if some Kentuckians have no healthcare coverage?
The Blueprint calls for “loosening the rules and regulations” of the state certificate of need program. Bevin says that program is currently used “to prevent the expansion of health care facilities and services.”
How would he loosen those rules and regulations? Why not end certificate of need altogether if it decreases competition and increases costs?
Bevin calls for modernizing state medical malpractice laws. How?
Seeking answers from Bevin should not be considered criticism of his ideas. Some of them are good ones. Giving voters better information ought to make them, and him, more popular.
Bevin has called me a “noisemaker” for asking questions like this. He complained that I have criticized him without ever meeting him.
So here’s my invitation to him to sit down with me and for a friendly deposition on these topics and others. My contact information is below.
Conway has done no better than Bevin in providing policy specifics. Before the votes are cast this column will try again to get more information about his plans and positions, too.
(John David Dyche is a Louisville attorney and a political commentator for WDRB.com. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jddyche)
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