Gov. Matt Bevin talks tough on budget cuts, Kentucky's Attorney General, and LMPD
Bevin touts his accomplishments, but says the next budget will be a "doozy"
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Budget cuts will be painful, the Attorney General is incompetent, and Louisville has a policing problem.
Gov. Matt Bevin wrapped up his second year in office with strong words and a concession, admitting that time has run out for a special session on pension reform this year.
“Logistically, I don't know how it's possible,” Bevin told reporters at a Capitol news conference.
But Bevin does expect lawmakers to deal with pension reform soon after the regular session begins in January, and before they work on the budget.
“It is still the intent to get it done in advance of the budget session. It will just be at the front end of it,” he said.
And Bevin said that budget is “going to be a doozy.”
The reason, Bevin said, is the state is committed to paying its bills, including funding the pension shortfall. He said the pension debt is closer to $80 billion than the $30 billion commonly reported, and that could mean painful cuts.
“There's going to be cuts spread across things that people think are sacrosanct. We can't afford for them to be. This is called being responsible,” he said.
Bevin blames Democrats, who controlled state government for years, for Kentucky’s budget woes.
“We're cleaning up 100 years worth of other people's messes,” Bevin said.
“They stuck to the state, and stuck it to the state, and stuck it to the state, and now the taxpayers in 2017 and 18 and beyond are going to have the pay the piper,” Bevin added. “But the piper will get paid one way or the other. We have to figure out a long-term plan to make it happen.”
Bevin did tout his accomplishments, including a record $9 billion in business investment, and more than 16,000 new jobs. He credits the right to work law passed this year.
“One of the most impactful, significant things that has ever been done by the legislature of Kentucky,” he said.
Bevin also pointed to his campaigns to reduce red tape, reform education and workforce development, and fix the criminal justice system.
The governor said his effort to curb violence in Louisville by urging prayer walks in troubled neighborhoods is having an impact.
“In those communities, on those blocks, you have seen a profound difference.”
But as Louisville's murder rate soared above 100 again this year, Bevin said part of the problem is LMPD.
“We've got a policing problem in the city of Louisville,” said Bevin.
Bevin pointed to WDRB's investigation which revealed most of an anti-violence grant went to a handful of LMPD officers who racked up hundreds of hours of overtime.
“Don't tell me the system's not broken. It's a joke,” he said. “That people are spending our taxpayer money to not address that problem is a problem for us to address. That's something that needs to be addressed.”
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer released a statement in response to Bevin’s comments.
"It is sad and surprising that a governor would criticize the hard-working men and women of our Louisville Metro Police Department, who put their lives on the line 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to protect our community,” said Fischer.
“Reducing crime is a complex issue. Our work and our violence-prevention plan are having an impact. Crime statistics show that crime is down in nearly every category in our city. But we’re not satisfied, or done. That’s why, working with federal partners, we are arresting the most violent criminals and taking guns away from convicted felons.
We invite everyone to join us in this effort."
Bevin also did not mince words when it came to his nemesis, Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, who has sued Bevin several times. Bevin called the suits politically motivated.
“The Attorney General is one of the least competent attorneys in the state of Kentucky,” he said.
In a statement, Beshear said, “All I have ever asked is that the governor follow the law. Given we are four days from Christmas, I had hoped the governor could rise above name calling and personal attacks.”
When asked whether he will run for re-election in 2019, Bevin was non-committal.
“I’ve got a year and some change to make that determination, and make that announcement.”
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