GOP gubernatorial candidates clash at NKU debate

04/23/2015 01:33 PM

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS – With less than a month before the primary election, the GOP candidates for governor are beginning to mix it up more and more in public appearances.

The latest example came late Wednesday when former Louisville metro councilman Hal Heiner, investment manager Matt Bevin, and state Sen. Chris McDaniel — who was pinch-hitting for running mate James Comer, took part in a one hour forum at Northern Kentucky University.

The fourth GOP candidate, former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott did not attend.

While the candidates agreed on eliminating federal teaching standards known as Common Core, fighting EPA mandates on coal production, and restructuring the state’s tax code, McDaniel and Bevin did trade quick barbs during the tightly controlled and structured forum.

Responding to the question of what is the single most important issue that will affect current students in their lifetime, McDaniel said the growing debt, and Heiner advocated kick-starting the economy while Bevin said that it was the states growing pension liability.

“This university gets $47 million a year in the most recent budget,” Bevin said. “Thirty-nine percent of that was paid back to KERS.”

McDaniel disagreed with Bevin’s statement saying, “frankly he’s wrong.

“Its thirty-nine percent contribution rate, not thirty-nine percent of the overall budget,” he said.

Later in the debate, all three candidates said that they would not accept a pension if elected governor or Lt. Governor. Heiner singled out Comer for his vote to increase legislative pensions when he was a state representative.

“Commissioner Comer voted and enhanced himself with a half a million dollars just based on that one vote alone,” Heiner said.

McDaniel responded by saying that he, as a current state senator, had already declined a legislative pension, and that Comer would do the same.

“The commissioner has openly said that maybe I made a bad vote and he would call for a full repeal of the legislative pension and give his up,” McDaniel said.

Bevin responded with a question: “Can I ask in fairness, I mean, why did he serve for years and years after casting that vote and never introduced legislation to say that he would forgo it.”

At that point the moderator cut off Bevin and the discussion ended.

All three candidates in attendance also agreed that there should be performance-based funding for the state’s colleges and universities.


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