Bevin promises to continue upending politics-as-usual in Frankfort
The KY governor held a news conference to review his first year and look ahead to the next
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Fasten your seat belt.
If you thought 2016 was a wild ride in Frankfort, wait for next year.
That is the message from Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin as he wraps up his first year in office.
The governor held an hour-long, sometimes combative, news conference Friday, looking back on year one, and ahead to what's next.
“Every single rock is going to be turned over to the best of our ability,” said Bevin. “Every single one.”
That phrase summed up Bevin's first year in office.
The Louisville businessman upended the establishment in Frankfort, even staging his year-end news conference not at the Capitol, but at a Louisville restaurant, Zeggz, on Shelbyville Rd.
“The economy is doing well, the state is doing well,” said Bevin as he cited a list of accomplishments, including an informed consent abortion bill, a felony expungement law, cutting red tape, and chopping the budget, while giving raises to state police, and putting more than a billion dollars into the ailing pension system.
“We are addressing the pension system like it's never been addressed. Ever,” said Bevin.
But the political upheaval in Frankfort may be Bevin's biggest first-year accomplishment.
Republicans took control of the House in the November election for the first time in nearly a century, and defeated Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo.
In 2017, the GOP will hold the House, Senate and Governor's Mansion for the first time in history.
“And what it was is the people of Kentucky saying, 'You know what, we want not only what we've gotten, we want more of it.' And they sent an overwhelming message,” Bevin said.
Bevin is expecting to turn that message into a mandate for his agenda.
“School choice, and right to work, and tort reform, and pension reform, and tax reform, and prevailing wage, and things of this sort,” he said.
But Bevin's first year was also punctuated by a running battle with Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear.
Beshear sued Bevin over some of his actions, including his reorganization of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees, and mid-year cuts to the state’s public universities.
Bevin spotlighted scandals in the Attorney General's office, such as the conviction of former Deputy Attorney General Tim Longmeyer on bribery charges, and a sexual discrimination lawsuit filed by a former female staffer.
“So you ask what it will take for us to work well. How about if he cleans his house up?” said Bevin. “What if he gets his house in order and actually focuses on representing the people of Kentucky?”
And Bevin plans to continue his investigation into alleged corruption in the Capitol, including the administration of his predecessor, former Gov. Steve Beshear.
“The level of corruption in our state is far deeper than any of us would believe and want to know,” he said.
Bottom line, If Bevin's first year was eventful, he says wait for year two.
“Don't expect any sacred cow not to be discussed.”
The Kentucky Democratic Party issued a statement calling Bevin's first year a success for his politics, but a failure for Kentucky.
The Democrats gave Bevin an "F" on jobs, education, and health and wellness; and an "A" on pay-to-play politics and intimidation.
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