FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Appearing on "The Brian Thomas Show" Tuesday morning, Gov. Matt Bevin referred opponents of pension reform as "drowning victims" who need to be "knocked out" for their own good.
The governor was talking about the battle he has fought over Senate Bill 151. He told Thomas that the pension system had to be saved, but it was difficult when those affected by the bill continued to fight him.
"And yet I’m being fought, in some instances, by the very people that we’re trying to save. It’s like saving a drowning victim. It’s like somebody … they’re fighting you, fighting you and pulling you under. You just need to knock ’em out and drag ’em to shore. It’s for their own good, and we have to save this system," Bevin said.
Kentucky has one of the worst-funded public pension systems in the country. Earlier this year, the state’s Republican-controlled legislature approved changes to the system, including moving all new teacher hires into a hybrid plan and limiting how teachers can use sick days to calculate their retirement benefits. The law prompted thousands of teachers to protest at the Capitol.
A Franklin Circuit Court judge ruled that the bill was unconstitutional. Bevin appealed that decision to the state Supreme Court.
State Democrats released a statement on the comments:
“Governor Bevin just can’t help himself. Every time he opens his mouth it’s a disaster. He has no respect for the people of this state, especially teachers. He’s arrogant and talks down to hardworking Kentuckians. It is offensive for Governor Bevin to suggest that teachers, police officers, and public employees can’t think for themselves or make informed decisions about their own future. Matt Bevin’s sustained, consistent attacks on his own constituents are an embarrassment to the state. Kentuckians deserve better than this.”