Last November, a businessman shook up Kentucky politics by defeating a popular member of the commonwealth’s controlling Democratic establishment. Matthew Bevin (R), a Louisville businessman and president of Bevin Brothers Manufacturing Company, defeated Jack Conway (D) who had served as the Commonwealth Attorney General since 2008. Conway had tons of support in Louisville and Lexington, the commonwealth’s two largest cities, but Bevin drew enough support throughout the rest of the state to win with 52.5% of the vote to Conway’s 43.8%.
Some say the surprising Bevin victory was due to so many voters being tired of career politicians, which seems to be a national trend, especially among Republicans. Others believe that Bevin’s victory was also due to his promises to eliminate the commonwealth’s healthcare exchange program and to cut the commonwealth’s budget and work towards reducing the deficit and his promise to address the controversy of same-sex marriage licenses.
Bevin’s first action after being sworn in was to change marriage licenses in Kentucky by taking the name of the county clerks off of the license. This move was done because of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis who refused to issue marriage licenses with her name on the license to same-sex couples. Davis spent 5 days in jail for failing to comply with a judge’s order. She claimed her Christian faith was more important than the law and that having her name on the license would be a violation of her First Amendment right of religious freedom.
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A couple weeks ago, I reported that Bevin announced his plan to transition from the commonwealth’s healthcare exchange program known as Kynect to the federal exchange program. In that announcement, Bevin pointed out that Kentucky residents were paying taxes to support Kynect and to support the federal exchange program and he didn’t think that was fair to the commonwealth’s residents.
In Bevin’s first State of the Commonwealth address this week, he announced his plans to keep another campaign promise to make cuts to the budget in an effort to help reduce the deficit and eventually balance the budget.
Bevin told the members of the House and Senate that the commonwealth is going to have to operate within their means, just like businesses and households do and how we teach our young people. To accomplish this, he is calling for a 9% cut throughout most commonwealth agencies. The details have not been fully worked out yet but he called for both houses in the legislature to work with him to help the commonwealth live within its means.
The only real hurdle facing Bevin’s budget cut proposals is getting it passed through the House, where it will go first. Currently, the House has 50 Democrats, 46 Republicans and 4 vacancies. The vacancies are to be filled in special elections to take place on March 8.
If Republicans can secure all 4 vacated seats, it would create a 50:50 stalemate in the House, which in today’s very partisan politics would be interesting in itself. However, the odds of that happening are far from being good. Two of the vacated seats were held by Democrats and 2 by Republicans.
However, if by chance Bevin’s budget makes it out of the House intact, it will then proceed to the Senate where Republicans hold a 27-11 seat advantage over the Democrats.
Bevin knows that by cutting budgets it could cost some jobs, but virtually every state and the federal government need to trim budgets which will undoubtedly cost jobs. We need someone in the White House like Bevin who will cut budgets and start trimming the excess fat from the federal budget including eliminating several entire federal departments. The only hope for our nation is to start living within their means regardless of how painful it first seems. If that can’t be accomplished soon, our financial hole will become a bottomless pit with no chance of climbing out.
It’s refreshing to see at least one political leader doing what he promised, but then Bevin was a businessman, not a politician. Like him or not, Trump is also a successful businessman which may be just what the American economy really needs, but is it worth the risk of electing a man who speaks before he thinks without fearing who he offends or what the cost will be?
If Bevin succeeds, then perhaps in 4 more years we may need to take a serious look at him to do the same thing in Washington.