Matt Bevin, the current Republican Governor of Kentucky, who is not from Kentucky, who was instead born in Colorado, raised in New Hampshire, went to college in Virginia, worked as a financial consultant in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, and then took over his family business in Connecticut, has been busy the last couple years following the dubious example of Wisconsin’s outgoing Governor Scott Walker by trying to raise his national conservative bonafides by attacking the school teachers of Kentucky.
The culmination of Matt Bevin’s attacks on Kentucky’s teachers was a bill that would strip away their pensions, and that was passed by adding it at the last minute to a bill that was supposed to be about sewage. The way in which the bill was passed landed it in the courts:
The Kentucky Supreme Court will now decide the constitutionality of public pension legislation after hearing oral arguments on Thursday.
Senate Bill 151 was originally an 11-page piece of legislation dealing with sewage. It passed the Senate in that form and had two reading in the House, but in the closing days of the 2018 General Assembly, a House committee substitute was presented, which contained most of the provisions of SB 1, the original pension reform bill which had stalled in the Senate.
The changes to SB 151 were adopted by the House committee, had a third reading in the House with final passage in that chamber, and the House changes were approved by the Senate, in a matter of just a few hours.
It is worth noting that Kentucky teachers most certainly need their pensions. It is all they have, because Kentucky teachers are not eligible for social security:
Worse, unlike most states and all private-sector workers, Kentucky’s teachers aren’t enrolled in Social Security. They don’t have access to the nationally portable, progressive retirement benefit which all other workers might take for granted. Without Social Security as a baseline of benefits, Kentucky teachers are even more exposed to the poorly structured, back-loaded state pension plan.
The carpetbagging Governor also accompanied his bill to strip away pensions from teachers with a veto of a school funding increase. Both actions caused Kentucky’s teachers to go on strike in the spring of 2018, which in turn encouraged Matt Bevin to level a disgusting accusation at Kentucky’s teachers:
“I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them,” Bevin said, according to a video posted to Twitter by a reporter for WDRB-TV. “I guarantee you somewhere today a child was physically harmed or ingested poison because they were home alone because a single parent didn’t have any money to take care of them. I’m offended by the idea that people so cavalierly and so flippantly disregarded what’s truly best for children.”
Bevin’s insult didn’t help his cause. The public for the most part took the side of the teachers, and that public support for the teacher strike helped convince the Kentucky legislature to override the Governor’s veto of the school funding increase. That was victory number one for Kentucky’s teachers, and students.
As Kentucky teachers declare victory after the Republican-dominated legislature overrode vetoes from the state’s GOP governor of a spending plan that included new money for education, the question going forward is whether teachers will be able to sustain their momentum into the fall elections when Republicans will try to defend their super majority
Matt Bevin was undeterred, continuing to level insults at Kentucky’s teachers:
Hundreds of teachers and educators flocked to Frankfort to protest the pension reform bill, particularly an unpopular provision — a reduction of the annual cost-of-living increase in benefits of retired teachers from 1.5 percent to 1.0 percent.
“It’s about just straight up wanting more than your fair share,” Bevin said. “This is a group of people just throwing a temper tantrum.”
Gov. Matt Bevin (R) renewed his feud with Kentucky teachers during an interview that aired Friday, saying those who protested his efforts to overhaul the state’s pension system were confused and misinformed.
“The bottom line is they didn’t know and when folks asked them why, many of them didn’t know why they were there, they were there because the KEA [Kentucky Education Association] told them to be there,” Bevin told co-hosts Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton on “Rising.”
Bevin blamed union leaders, claiming they “mislead” and “misrepresented” facts to the public.
But again, Matt Bevin’s insults have accomplished nothing, as the Kentucky Supreme Court has given Kentucky’s teachers and students victory number two, striking down Bevin’s pension cuts in a unanimous decision:
In a rebuke of the General Assembly and a blow to Gov. Matt Bevin’s approach to reforming Kentucky’s pension system, the state Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously struck down the pension reform law passed by the legislature earlier this year.
The high court ruled that the speedy process used by Republican majorities to turn Senate Bill 151 from a sewer bill into a 291-page pension reform bill and zip it into law violated a provision within the state constitution intended to ensure that lawmakers have the “fair opportunity” to consider a bill before voting on it.
“We declare the enactment of SB 151 was contradictory to the Kentucky Constitution and is hereby void and of no effect,” Justice Daniel J. Venters wrote for the court.
This is cause for celebration for the people of Kentucky, most especially the teachers and their students. But, there is still one more victory that is yet to come, and that will be booting out their carpetbagging Governor in 2019 when he is up for re-election.