Matt Bevin

Ethics Commission Says It Can’t Stop Bevin’s Inquiry

May 3, 2016
J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

The Executive Branch Ethics Commission says it cannot stop Republican Gov. Matt Bevin from investigating whether his Democratic predecessor violated state ethics laws.

Bevin says he will hire a private law firm to investigate whether former Gov. Steve Beshear coerced state employees to donate to political campaigns.

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, Steve Beshear’s son, asked the ethics commission to tell Bevin he does not have the authority to conduct such an investigation. Commission Executive Director Kathryn Gabhart wrote back on Monday saying the commission does not have the authority to stop Bevin.

Bevin spokeswoman Jessica Ditto said the commission was right to reject Andy Beshear’s request. She said Bevin welcomes the commission to conduct its own investigation.

Andy Beshear said any investigation by Bevin would not be credible.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Among Gov. Matt Bevin’s line-item vetoes in the state budget earlier this week was $400,000 that would have gone to the Arc of Kentucky, an advocacy organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The money was set aside to help fund the nonprofit’s leadership program, which trains people with disabilities and supporters in civic engagement.

Patty Dempsey, Arc of Kentucky’s executive director, said the $200,000 per year was in the budget to return the program to its original funding level.

“Without the funding, we are faced with that possibility of losing it,” Dempsey said.

Bevin vetoed all or part of 14 bills this legislative session, including several line-item vetoes to the $21 billion two-year state budget.

Arc of Kentucky’s Advocates in Action program trains up to 24 participants each year and pays for travel expenses to two events in Frankfort.

WFPL News

Gov. Matt Bevin has issued seven more vetoes, delaying a free community college scholarship program, cutting out parts of the state budget and killing a new driver’s license bill.

Bevin has now vetoed all or part of 14 bills in the wake of his first legislative session as governor.

“Today’s action will create economic opportunity and provide benefits to generations for years to come,” Bevin said in a statement.

In line-item vetoes of the state budget, Bevin eliminated funding for the first year of the “Work Ready” free community college tuition program. He also eliminated a bill that contained operating language for the program and other education initiatives, saying they were “hastily written.”

“Developing and implementing a properly functioning Work Ready Scholarship program will take a great deal of time and effort,” Bevin said.

Ryland Barton, WKU Public Radio

Former Gov. Steve Beshear has accused Gov. Matt Bevin of coercing state employees into helping pay off his campaign debt.

The allegations come a week after Bevin claimed that members of Beshear’s administration coerced state employees into making campaign contributions to Democrats.

Beshear said Bevin “started this food fight.”

“… By calling us liars, by criticizing my wife, and now by ginning up a political investigation to try and sully our reputation,” he said.

The feud extends back to when Bevin criticized Beshear’s appointment of then-First Lady Jane Beshear to the Kentucky Horse Park Commission.

Since then, the two governors have lobbed accusations at one another. Bevin has blamed Beshear for leaving the state in a “financial crisis,” creating the glitches in the new health benefit portal Benefind and shaking down state employees for campaign contributions.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Wednesday is the last day for Gov. Matt Bevin to veto all or part of bills that passed on the final day of the legislative session, including the state budget.

Bevin’s spokeswoman Jessica Ditto declined to comment on possible vetoes, saying “everything will be filed accordingly” on Wednesday.

Bevin has already vetoed seven bills, including portions of the Judicial Branch operating budget.

Lawmakers will not have an opportunity to override any potential vetoes since they pushed the legislative session up to its constitutionally-required deadline of April 15.

Lawmakers arrived at a budget compromise that cuts most state spending by 9 percent over the next two years and puts $1.2 billion into the state’s pension systems.

Kentucky governors are allowed to line-item veto parts of bills, meaning Bevin could eliminate parts of the budget while leaving the rest of the document intact.

Bevin Traveling to Germany, France, Belgium This Week

Apr 26, 2016

Governor Matt Bevin is traveling to Germany, France and Belgium this week as part of his first overseas trip as governor.

Bevin is scheduled to arrive in Hannover, Germany, on Tuesday to attend the Hannover Messe Fair, a trade show of industrial technology. A news release from the governor's office says Bevin will meet with prospective businesses and companies that already have Kentucky facilities.

He will spend the rest of the week meeting with executives in Germany, France and Belgium. Bevin says the trip is an "incredible opportunity" to sell the benefits of Kentucky to manufacturers.

Bevin spokeswoman Jessica Ditto said the governor's trip will not prevent him from issuing vetoes of the state's two-year operating budget. State lawmakers approved the budget on April 15. Bevin has until Wednesday to issue vetoes, if any.

Ex-Kentucky Personnel Secretary Pleads Guilty to Kickbacks

Apr 19, 2016
WFPL News

A former official whose case was an embarrassment for Kentucky's former Democratic governor and the current attorney general has pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge.

Tim Longmeyer pleaded guilty Tuesday to using his influence as head of the state's Personnel Cabinet under former Gov. Steve Beshear to steer contracts to a public relations firm in 2014 and 2015. The 48-year-old Longmeyer appeared before U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell and acknowledged receiving more than $200,000 in kickbacks from the public relations firm.

He faces up to 10 years in prison at sentencing, which is scheduled Aug. 18.

Beshear's son, current Attorney General Andy Beshear, hired Longmeyer as his top deputy earlier this year. Longmeyer abruptly resigned the post two days before his indictment was announced in March.

Jacob Ryan, WFPL

Gov. Matt Bevin has launched an investigation into potential corruption under former Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration.

In a press conference Tuesday, Bevin alleged state employees were coerced into contributing to Democratic political campaigns, including those of Attorney General Andy Beshear and Bevin’s opponent in the governor’s race, former Attorney General Jack Conway.

Bevin said employees have come forward and said they were “essentially coerced” into making contributions and “they complied of fear of loss of their jobs or other retribution.”

“We have learned from many rank-and-file employees of closed-door demands by high level Beshear administration officials that they make contributions to Democratic candidates in the last election,” Bevin said.

Former Gov. Beshear’s secretary of the Personnel Cabinet, Tim Longmeyer, is currently under investigation for a kickback scheme that allegedly directed state contracts to a consulting firm in exchange for campaign donations and cash.

LRC Public Information

If lawmakers fail to pass a state budget by the end of the legislative session on Friday, Gov. Matt Bevin says he won’t call a special legislative session to give them more time.

If a two-year budget doesn’t pass by June 30, the state will be thrown into a partial government shutdown. Nonetheless, Bevin is adamant that he won’t give lawmakers more time.

“I will not reward the inability to do the job that people were sent here for by paying them extra money,” Bevin said. “The job can get done. I believe the job will get done because the job should get done.”

The Legislative Research Commission estimates that it costs about $63,000 each day the legislature meets.

Only the governor can call a special session.

Lawmakers have been deadlocked over the budget for weeks and have now run into a hard deadline: The constitution won’t allow the legislative session to go past April 15.

WFPL News

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin is encouraging state lawmakers to pass a budget before the legislature adjourns for the year.

Bevin spokeswoman Jessica Ditto said the Republican governor still hopes lawmakers can pass a budget without an expensive special session.

House and Senate lawmakers ended budget negotiations late Sunday night after declaring an impasse. The legislature is scheduled to meet Tuesday for the final time this year. Lawmakers could move their final day to as late as Friday to give them more time to reach a deal. But Senate Republican leaders said they would not support that move.

If lawmakers fail to pass a budget, Bevin would have to call legislators back for an expensive special session. Otherwise, portions of state government would shut down on July 1.

Ryland Barton, WKU Public Radio

A spokesman for Andy Beshear says the Democratic Attorney General will not file a lawsuit against Republican Gov. Matt Bevin before Monday.

Last week Bevin ordered midyear budget cuts of 4.5 percent at all colleges and universities. That means those institutions will have $41 million less to spend than the legislature intended.

Beshear says Bevin's action is illegal. He gave the governor seven days to rescind his order or face a lawsuit. Beshear spokesman Terry Sebastian says that timeline ends at close of business Friday.

College funding is a key disagreement between House and Senate leaders in crafting a two-year state budget plan. Negotiations are continuing but Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo says the two sides are at an impasse.

Rhonda Miller, WKU Public Radio

A day after Republican Gov. Matt Bevin issued an order cutting the state’s current contribution to higher education by 4.5 percent, Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear said that move is illegal.

In a news conference late Friday afternoon, Beshear — the state’s top law enforcement official — told Bevin to rescind his order, which made the cuts to state colleges and universities. He said if the governor did not do so within seven days, his office would file suit.

“That is the exact type of power our democracy, our constitution, our liberty explicitly forbids,” Beshear said.

In a letter reducing the appropriation to higher education, Bevin cited a state law he said gives him the authority to make the cuts. The law forbids “allotments in excess of the amount appropriated to that budget unit in a branch budget bill” but says nothing about reduced appropriations.

WKU

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has ordered immediate 4.5 percent cuts in state funding to all public colleges and universities.

The order comes as state lawmakers are locked in a stalemate over a two-year state spending plan. House and Senate leaders broke off negotiations on Thursday because Senate Republicans insisted on budget cuts for higher education while Democrats refused.

Bevin first proposed his mid-year budget cuts in January as part of a plan to cut state spending by $650 million and use the savings to begin to pay down the state’s public pension debt.

The House and the Senate did not include Bevin’s 4.5 percent mid-year cuts in their budget proposals. But Bevin, citing a state law that allows him to reduce allotments for executive branch agencies, cut their budgets anyway.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Brandy Shaul

This is the first in a two-part series on Medicaid, Kentucky's expansion of the government-subsidized program, and proposed changes to Medicaid.

As Governor Matt Bevin prepares to re-design Kentucky’s Medicaid program, a new national survey shows the commonwealth with the second-largest gains in insurance coverage. 

More than half-a-million Kentuckians obtained coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act.  Some 80 percent of the newly insured went onto the Medicaid rolls. 

But many Medicaid enrollees are worried about what lies ahead under the state’s new Republican governor.  Teresa Bowley was at a recent health insurance sign-up event in Bowling Green to ask a question about changing providers.  Six months ago, she qualified for coverage through Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion. 

Now when she gets sick, she goes to the doctor. But that hasn’t always been the case. 

”You just don’t. You just try to think this will go away on its own.  You have to miss work," Bowley explained.

WFPL News

Gov. Matt Bevin’s top budget aide on Monday said spending cuts are necessary to start improving the status of the state’s ailing pension systems.

Under the governor’s proposed budget, most state agencies will be cut by 4.5 percent for the rest of the current fiscal year and 9 percent over the next two fiscal years.

State Budget Director John Chilton told state legislators that the cuts are better than increasing taxes, borrowing money or ignoring the growing financial liability in the state pension systems.

“Are these severe? Yeah,” he said of the proposed cuts. “But the amount of liability that needs to be paid at some point is huge.”

Combined, the pension systems for state employees and teachers are short about $30 billion in the money the state needs to send out checks to current and future retirees.

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