Ryan Hermens,

Eight minutes into the governor’s debate on Tuesday, moderator Shannon Cogan urged the audience at Lexington’s Singletary Center to remain silent.  But the verbal jousts of the candidates illicited whoops, boos, cheers and rare bits of laughter throughout the hour-long debate reflecting an audience as clearly divided  on policy as the two men on stage.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin and Democratic challenger Andy Beshear found little common ground during the debate on the University of Kentucky campus. That was true on the hot-button issue of abortion .

Ryland Barton/WFPL

  Kentucky Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis says it is not within the Kentucky Department of Education’s authority to investigate political emails sent from a private individual to teachers’ professional email accounts.

On Wednesday, the Kentucky Education Association called for Lewis or the Kentucky Board of Education to lead a state investigation into political emails teachers in several rural Kentucky school districts received at work. 


This week in Kentucky politics, Gov. Matt Bevin signed the so-called pension “relief” bill into law after a short special legislative session.

Attorney General Andy Beshear threatened to sue over the session, saying that Bevin had blocked lawmakers from considering other proposals.

And Amy McGrath addressed the bumpy launch to her U.S. Senate campaign

  Gov. Matt Bevin’s pension bill continues to advance through the Republican-led legislature, easily passing the Kentucky Senate’s State Government Committee on Tuesday.

Lawmakers are meeting for a special legislative session called by Bevin to address surging pension costs for the state’s regional universities and 118 “quasi” state agencies like health departments and rape crisis centers.

Bevin has proposed allowing the agencies to exit the state’s ailing pension system to avoid the spike in costs, as long as they either pay all or most of their share of the state’s pension debt.

In the midst of reflecting on Primary 2019, Gov. Matt Bevin was also asked about what remains a pressing topic in Frankfort.  Pension reform questions can surface anytime, anywhere when state officials are involved.

When quizzed on what voters will want to talk about in the fall campaign, Bevin said, “They want to talk about the pension, even when they don’t want to talk about the pension, it’s topical now.”  Still, a special legislative session to consider pension changes for universities and quasi-state government agencies remains in limbo. 

Lexington Area Voters Weigh In On Primary 2019

May 21, 2019
Stu Johnson

With predictions of voter turnout not much above 10 percent, people in southwest Lexington were turning out in slightly higher numbers Tuesday.  Voters weighed in a variety of issues.

Polls opened at 6 a.m. and just before noon voter turnout at two precincts in this portion of Lexington was already at about 14%.  Jacob Stenzel, who served in the military for six years, said he just wanted to get his voice out. “I’m registered Republican, but I’m not too happy with our party.  I think the pension reform needs to be redone.” 

Gov. Matt Bevin has vetoed a bill that would have provided some financial relief to regional universities and agencies like local health departments that are facing massive increases in the amount they have to pay in to the state pension system.

Bevin also said he intends to call a special legislative session to address the issue before July 1 of this year.

Local health departments, mental health agencies and domestic violence shelters are asking state lawmakers to shield them from massive pension contributions that they say will bankrupt them or severely limit services.

As of last July, most state agencies pay 83 percent of employee salaries to Kentucky’s pension system. That means on top of paying an employee’s salary, state agencies have to send an additional 83 percent of that salary to pay for state worker retirements.

Wikimedia Commons

  Leaders of the Kentucky legislature have formed a new group tasked with reviewing and analyzing the state’s pension systems, which are underfunded and have been the subject of controversial reform attempts in recent years.


Mike McCardwell, a retired teacher from Shelbyville, says he thinks anger over the pension issue hasn’t waned after massive teacher protests earlier this year. 

He says educators are still mad that Gov. Matt Bevin said opponents to the pension bill have a “thug mentality.” 

McCardwell told Barton, “For 40 years I’ve encouraged students to honor the government and value the government because America’s a great country. I was disappointed the teachers were attacked by legislators and by the governor. As I said, I don’t like being called a thug after working for 40 years.” 

Ohio Valley Resource: Pensions at the Polls

Oct 22, 2018

In the months before midterm elections, thousands of Ohio Valley workers and retirees have rallied over an often overlooked issues: Pensions.

There are serious questions about whether pension funds for miners, teamsters, teachers, and others will remain solvent. As labor leaders look to Congress for action, those questions are coming up in the region's midterm campaigns. 

Listen to Ohio Valley Resource's Becca Schimmel in this special report. 

The Ohio Valley Resource is made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and WEKU.

A judge has struck down changes made to Kentucky’s pension systems earlier this year. The ruling states that lawmakers violated the state constitution by rushing the bill to passage in a matter of hours. 

The challenge is the latest in a series of legal disputes between Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear and Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. 

During a hearing Thursday the judge presiding over the lawsuit against Kentucky’s new pension law questioned why state lawmakers were able to pass the measure out of the Republican-led legislature in just one day. 

State law requires bills to be formally presented on three separate days before they are eligible to be voted on in the state House and Senate, though lawmakers frequently vote to override the rule. The new changes to Kentucky’s pension system were passed in just one day.