BY RACHAEL BLANDAU – STAFF WRITER
On November 3, Republican Matt Bevin was elected Governor after defeating Democrat Jack Conway to take the historically liberal seat, held by Democrats for forty of the last 44 years. Bevin is a Tea Party Republican and businessman who built his campaign on pro-life, pro-gun, and pro-religious freedom ideals. He took momentum in the race by capitalizing on the state’s anti-Obama sentiment and promising to fight against the President’s “War on Coal.” Bringing Bevin into office will surely bring a sudden change in policy from our former agenda, and one that wouldn’t seem to benefit the ordinary citizens of Kentucky. So, were the results of this election truly a victory?
Throughout the race Bevin’s platform has been controversial, leading to dissatisfaction amongst the populous after his surprising win. The governor-elect announced that in his first month in office, he plans to issue an executive order to change marriage licenses so the names of county clerks will not be shown, to protect individual religious rights.
“One of the things I will take care of right away, is we will remove the names of county clerks from the marriage form,” governor-elect Bevin said. This is not totally out of the blue, as Bevin was one of the many Republicans around the country to support Rowan county clerk Kim Davis in her criticism and boycott of the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling. He agrees with her stance against the ruling and even traveled to support her when she was jailed for being held in contempt of the court, when she refused to approve marriage licenses for same-sex couples.
By standing against the same-sex marriage court ruling, Bevin angered many Kentuckians who thought he was standing on the wrong side of history. Yet, this is only one of many conservative policies he stands by that does not benefit the majority of Kentucky’s citizens. In a state where the Affordable Healthcare Act has been overwhelmingly popular, as Kynect is arguably the most successful exchange set up under the program, Bevin has declared his plans to dismantle the state’s healthcare exchange. This would leave around 500,000 Kentuckians floundering without healthcare, and would cost a whopping estimate of 23 million dollars to transition to the federal website.
Bevin also plans to rollback Medicaid, which would leave 400,000 people without coverage. It seems quite inexcusable to leave this many people suffering through illness alone without healthcare, yet our new governor underlines this part of his agenda as one of his most important issues.
The governor-elect’s common theme when interviewed always pointed to making Kentucky great again, showing the nation that Kentuckians can be self-made and do not need to rely on government programs to succeed. But, he is too ambitious in his efforts to make this change happen.
“We have created a welfare state,” he said. “We have robbed people of having any dignity over the state of their own lives.” This may be true; we do have programs in place that are designed to help those who cannot help themselves, and it is reasonable to think that some lean on these programs rather than working towards sustaining their own future. However, he disregards those that truly need these programs—like Kynect, which allows good, hard-working individuals that just need help to bypass expensive hospital fees. By striving to cut the program so soon into his stint as governor, Bevin is jumping the gun. If we have to change a system that is working great then it must be gradual change, one that impacts lives incrementally so that people can arrange to get the help they need elsewhere.
While Bevin wants to transition our state healthcare back to the federal level, he plans to bring more power to local government over education by dropping Common Core and developing more rigid state standards. Though many oppose Common Core and its somewhat confusing methods, cutting Common Core while the rest of the nation is still using it would just put Kentucky students even more behind than they are already.
“Local control of education empowers parents and educators to advocate on behalf of our children and their individual needs. Common Core is just another example of unconstitutional government overreach,” Bevin said. This would put us back in the same situation we were before Common Core—struggling to find a standard system for our state that helps students academically and keeps us on equal or higher footing to other states’ standards.
So, is it a good thing that Matt Bevin was elected as our governor? While he is young and is trying to breathe new life into the state, it seems that he is ultimately propagating the wrong issues to do so. Kentuckians need a strong leader that will make our state look better, while also improving citizen lives. Right now, we have a governor-elect that is optimistic about Kentucky’s trajectory, but overlooks the future of its people.
Click here for more from the Cento on Governor-Elect Bevin’s victory.