Time winding down, Bevin finds himself in a good spot heading into the primary

05/07/2015 05:46 PM

With public and internal polls showing three candidates in the four-way Republican primary for governor running closely together, Louisville investment manager Matt Bevin says the goal is to “peak” at the opportune moment, i.e. Election Day, and he likes “where we are.”

GOP voter turnout is expected to be light, creating differing opportunities for Bevin and others to capture the nomination. Though he remains cautiously optimistic, Bevin says the real poll will come May 19.

With the final push left and Bevin low on funds in the final two weeks, he had $286,200 in the bank during his 32-day, pre-primary report filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance. He expects to have the resources to compete in the final days.

“We’re continuing to fund this as needed either through monies raised or monies contributed and loaned as well,” he said in an interview with Pure Politics on Monday.

With jobs and the economy listed as the main issue the state faces by nearly all the candidates, Bevin says the governor has the responsibility to make the state “conducive to job creation.”

“It is not the role of government to create jobs,” said Bevin, who went on to say that he knows how to incentivize job creation in the state.

Logistically, Bevin said Kentucky has what it takes to be a player in the national economy. However, Bevin said legislative policies, tax structure, and the health care and education systems are all playing a role in the overall health of the state’s economy.

On tax reform, he said Kentucky “needs a governor that will use the bully pulpit to actually lead, eve if that means doing something “politically unpopular.”

Bevin wants to address the death tax in the state, corporate tax rate — he said it doesn’t make sense to tax production — and other components of the state’s tax code.

“There’s so many things that are antiquated with the way that we attract people to come here,” Bevin said (9:00). “We’ve got to be smarter about this.”

Part of Bevin’s plan for the state is to shrink state government by enacting a hiring freeze and bringing down the workforce via attrition down to 2007 levels “at least.”

Bevin also spoke about the state’s pension systems and the underlying issues of underfunding. (14:25)

Calling on “tough decisions” for the state to make, Bevin harkened back to his experience working as an investment consultant to pension plans over 20 years ago.

Independent audits of the state pension plans will allow the people of Kentucky to “see what’s happening,” he said.

Kentuckians will “be amazed at how many people are in the plans,” Bevin said.

The solution to the pension system will come over the long term, he said, but right away the state should start by freezing the existing plans to new hires so individuals cannot enter into hybrid cash-balance plans with a guaranteed rate of return. Bevin would then move those individuals into a 401(k) style plan.

“Additionally we are going to have to require more of the people who are in the plans right now — they are going to have to contribute a higher percentage to their own retirement,” Bevin said. “We require the least of any states, and we have some of the most generous benefits.”

If Bevin does become elected Republican nominee in the fall he will face Attorney General Jack Conway in the November election, setting up a possible showdown over gay marriage in the state.

In March of 2014 Conway opted not to appeal a ruling striking down Kentucky’s constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage. Gov. Steve Beshear took up the legal challenge, won at the U.S. Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on Kentucky’s and three other states’ bans next month.

While Conway stands in support of gay marriage, Bevin said he personally believes “government should not be in the business of redefining the institution of marriage,” calling it a state’s rights issue.

“I think Jack Conway frankly … he abdicated his responsibility. He broke his oath that he took to defend the Constitution of Kentucky,” Bevin said (19:10). “That wasn’t his job to decide if he personally agreed. He did not defend the Constitution.”

Hear Bevin’s thoughts on legalizing medical marijuana and education in the interview above.


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