Gov. Matt Bevin criticized for his comments about teachers who oppose the pension bill
Bevin called teachers protesting the bill "selfish" and "uninformed."
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Gov. Matt Bevin is receiving criticism for his comments this week about teachers who are fighting the pension reform bill.
Teachers have recently been loud in their opposition to the Senate Bill 1, which reduces some of their benefits. On a Campbellsville radio station, Bevin did not mince words.
“If they get what they wish for, they will not have a pension system for younger people who are still working," he said Wednesday. "And that, to me, is remarkably selfish and short-sighted."
Bevin went on to question teachers’ knowledge of the pension bill.
“I am just flabbergasted at how remarkably uninformed folks are," he said. "They're highly educated but very uninformed."
At the Capitol complex Thursday, teachers lined the hallways, holding signs that displayed their anger at Bevin's comments.
“If I had a student like him in the school system, he would have an individual education plan with behavior goals to behave nicely,” said Carlotta Abbott, a retired teacher.
Even members of Bevin's own party were unhappy with his remarks.
“As a teacher, frankly, it was offensive to me,” said Rep. John “Bam” Carney (R-Campbellsville), who chairs the House Education Committee.
Teachers who packed a meeting of the Senate Education Committee applauded as the Republican chairman went out of his way to praise them.
“I just want to personally thank all our educators,” Sen. Max Wise said as he opened the meeting, adding later that he was responding to Bevin.
“Yes, in terms of the comments that were made by the governor, I think it's only appropriate as the chairman of the Senate Education Committee to also praise our teachers,” Wise said.
Reacting on social media to the uproar, Bevin pointed out he is the only governor to fully fund the pension system, and added "meaningful reform requires hard truth and bold action."
Lawmakers on both sides said his comments make action more difficult.
“There's no question this continues to divide people, and it really creates a situation that makes this process even more difficult,” said Rep. Rocky Adkins (D-Sandy Hook), the House Minority Leader.
Carney said those on both sides should be more mindful that Kentuckians, particularly children, are watching.
“I hope, going forward, both sides would be much more deliberate about the things they say,” Carney said.
At publication time, Bevin’s office had not responded to WDRB’s request for an interview.
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