State Watch

Audience members confront Kentucky governor on education at press conference

Audience members at a press conference by Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) pressed him on education funding and his recent comments about teacher protests in the state.

Bevin held a press conference in Hazard, Ky., Thursday to discuss economic development in the area, but found himself confronted by an audience member on education toward the end of the event.

"How are all the advantages you say we're going to gain going to come to fruition when we have an uneducated population?" a man in the audience asked.

The man accused Bevin of "destroying our education" with his policies, including his plans to boost charter schools in the state.

The audience member also criticized Bevin for his comments slamming teachers for shutting down schools to protest education funding.

"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 last week. He later apologized for the remarks. 

"How can you justify the attacks you have made on education and educators?" the man asked.

Bevin defended his record on education, saying that he has funneled more funding toward education than his predecessor.

He also apologized again for his comments on the teacher protests.

"I truly am sorry to have offended, whether you or others as well, based on the words I have said and how they have been understood," Bevin said. "The intent I know was not to insult people personally, it really wasn't."

Another audience member pressed Bevin on the comments.

"You just gave a nonapology apology," the person said. "You said we were thugs, you said we were ignorant, you said we were misinformed."

Bevin denied making those comments about teachers and again defended his record on education.

Schools in Kentucky shut down last Friday as thousands of teachers traveled to the state capitol to protest Bevin's vetoes on a $480 million tax increase and corresponding two-year spending plan, which would spend record levels of state revenue on classrooms. 

Bevin said the tax increase wouldn't be enough to provide the funding teachers had demanded, but the GOP-controlled state House voted to overturn his vetoes. 

Teachers were also left furious last month after the state legislature passed a rushed bill to change their pensions.