Bevin furthers aim at beefier workforce with executive order establishing a task force

06/13/2017 04:16 PM

FRANKFORT — With an executive order signed Tuesday, Governor Matt Bevin established the Kentucky Work Matters Task Force.

The 23 member task force brings together cabinet officials from every part of state government and with members of the private sector. The mission of the group is to address barriers to employment and promote inclusion among people with disabilities, foster children, disabled veterans, and those with histories of substance abuse and criminal records.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Jennifer Sheehy of the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy appeared at the press conference to laud Bevin over the formation of the task force, the first of its kind in the nation.

The commonwealth is below the labor force participation rate with 54.7 percent participation, compared to nearly 63 percent nationally.

More than 35,000 people in the state are locked up in a correctional facility or in a county jail, taking them out of the workforce. There are also more than 306,000 Kentuckians on disability. One third of that group has a mental condition while another third has some form of muscle disease. There are also around 300,000 people in the commonwealth with substance abuse issues — like alcohol addiction, or opiate abuse and addiction, according to stats compiled by the Council of State Governments.

Tuesday’s press conference also highlighted giving opportunities to people with disabilities. Speaking as part of the employer side of the equation was Mike Michalak a Little Caesars Pizza franchisee.

Members of the task force include:
• Adam Meier, deputy chief of staff for Gov. Bevin
• Secretary Scott Brinkman, Executive Cabinet
• Secretary Vickie Yates Brown Glisson, Cabinet for Health and Family Services
• Secretary John Tilley, Justice and Public Safety Cabinet
• Secretary Derrick Ramsey, Labor Cabinet
• Secretary Hal Heiner, Education and Workforce Development
• Secretary Tom Stephens, Personnel Cabinet
• Secretary Greg Thomas, Transportation Cabinet
• Vivek Sarin, Cabinet for Economic Development executive officer
• Deputy Commissioner Bryan Hubbard, Division of Income Support
• Buddy Hoskinson, Department for Aging and Independent Living
• Commissioner Beth Kuhn, Department of Workforce Investment
• Commissioner Stephen Pruitt, Department of Education
• President Bob King, Council on Postsecondary Education
• Senator John Schickel
• Senator Robin Webb
• Representative Jim DeCesare
• Representative Arnold Simpson
• Katie Shepherd, Kentucky Supreme Court designee
• Mike Michalak, citizen at-large (Shelbyville)
• Katie Wolf Whaley, citizen at-large (Lexington)
• Beth Davisson, citizen at-large (Louisville)
• Tim McGurk, citizen at-large (Prospect)

The 23 member group began meeting right after Tuesday’s press conference in the Capitol Annex, and is expected to present a final report with policy recommendations on how to improve the workforce participation rates for people with disabilities, and other populations before the next session.

Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics available exclusively on Spectrum News. Pure Politics is the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like his coverage of the backlog of DNA rape kits waiting to be tested in Kentucky. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Pure Politics airs weeknight at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Nick on Twitter @NStorm_Politics. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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