GOP candidates talk heroin, education and public-private partnerships at N. Ky. Chamber forum

03/27/2015 04:57 PM

ERLANGER – The four GOP candidates for governor gathered in Northern Kentucky on Friday to make their pitch to Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce members and local officials as to why they should be the next governor.

Topics ranged from how to improve education in the state to addressing the heroin epidemic.

While all four candidates, entrepreneur Matt Bevin, Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer, Louisville businessman and former councilman Hal Heiner and former State Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott, applauded the passage of Senate Bill 192, they agreed that it is just a start to attacking the issue.

Bevin and Comer said that improving economic development in the state is one tool to try to make a dent in the epidemic.

“When you have a state where 25 percent of the people are on Medicaid, if you rob people of the dignity to provide for themselves, if you rob people from the self-respect that comes from providing for one’s self, you rob people of hope,” Bevin said.

“We would have fewer people on drugs, we would have fewer broken families, we would have fewer people living in poverty, fewer crime committed, if we had a more competitive business climate in this state,” Comer said.

Heiner believes that there needs to be a three-pronged approach.

“I think we need community led education efforts that are way beyond where we are today,” Heiner said. “We need to pick up those rehab efforts and from a law enforcement standpoint, quite frankly, we haven’t had the leadership that we need in Kentucky.”

All agreed that the current K-12 and post-secondary education system in Kentucky needs to be improved.

Scott would like to see charter schools in the states urban areas, especially Lexington and Louisville.

“You take Jefferson and Fayette County, I mean those schools are going down,” Scott said. “No matter what we do to try to bring them up, they’re not coming up. We’ve got distressed areas that need charter schools.”

Bevin wants outcome based funding for the state’s universities.

“We should be looking at graduation rates, we should be looking at progress towards graduation, looking at STEM degrees which are issued,” Bevin said.

Comer wants schools to concentrate more on educating students with knowledge which will help them land a good paying job.

“We need to not only make sure that we are graduating students with degrees, we need students that get certificates,” Comer said.

Heiner feels education reform needs to begin with educating students to be prepared for jobs to come.

“We need people who are ready for the workforce of the future,” Heiner said.

One issue which is of particular interest is the talk of public-private partnership, or P3, and tolls as part of the equation for constructing a new Brent Spence Bridge.

All four candidates were against tolls for the bridge but kept the door open for public-private partnerships.

The four candidates in the 2015 GOP gubernatorial primary will take part in a one-hour televised debate on cn|2.

The debate will take place in cn|2 Pure Politics’ Louisville studio at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Tuesday, April 21 and will be broadcast to the more than 600,000 Time Warner Cable subscribers across Kentucky.

The primary is on May 19.

About Don Weber

Don Weber joined cn|2 when it launched back in May 2010 and soon became a reporter for Pure Politics. He is a graduate of Northern Kentucky University and has spent many years covering everything from politics to sports. Don says he loves meeting new people everyday as part of his job and also enjoys the fact that no two days are the same when he comes to work. Don Weber can be reached at donald.weber@twcnews.com.

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