Matt Bevin

Kentucky State Government

Kentucky environmental advocates are worried that budget reductions called for by Gov. Matt Bevin will make it impossible for the Energy and Environment Cabinet to perform its basic functions.

In his first budget proposal since taking office last month, Bevin on Tuesday called for across-the-board 9 percent budget reductions to most state agencies.

From 2012-2016, the cabinet has already seen its budget reduced by nearly 16 percent, and has implemented those cuts in various departments.

The cabinet’s responsibilities include implementing and enforcing federal laws such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, plus mine safety, surface mine permitting and reclamation, forestry, oil and gas regulation and preserving Kentucky’s wild areas.

What specific state agencies would be cut, and by how much, would be up to cabinet secretaries, Bevin said on Tuesday.

Rob Canning, WKMS

Gov. Matt Bevin has proposed 9 percent cuts to most state government agencies over the next two years in an effort to reduce state spending by $650 million.

Bevin proposed his first budget on Tuesday evening in an address to the Kentucky General Assembly, which will use much of the 2016 session to forge a state spending plan based, at least in part, on Bevin’s proposal.

Bevin, a Republican, entered office last month promising to put Kentucky’s “financial house in order.” His Democratic predecessor, Steve Beshear, offered an optimistic outlook of Kentucky’s fiscal shape before he left office. But Bevin has taken a dimmer view, citing underfunded pension systems and a $250 million payment for expanded Medicaid.

Bevin said Tuesday he would also issue an executive order to cut state spending by 4.5 percent across the board during the current fiscal year, which ends in June.

During a meeting with reporters Tuesday before his formal budget address, Bevin said individual cabinet secretaries would responsible for cutting the budgets of state agencies they oversee.

WFPL News

Gov. Matt Bevin unveils his proposal Tuesday night for how Kentucky state government should spend a little more than $20 billion over the next two years.

The much-anticipated budget address will provide a granular glimpse into the new governor’s priorities and just how he plans to put the state’s “financial house in order,” as he’s promised.

Last month, Bevin became only the second Republican governor of Kentucky in more than 40 years, and his stances during last year’s campaign pointed to a strong preference for fiscal thriftiness.

Kentucky’s revenues are growing — the state is estimated to rake in about $900,000 more over the next two years.

But so are costs.

WFPL News

A day after declaring a state of emergency due to a winter storm, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin was in New Hampshire to speak at a Republican forum.

Media reports say Bevin was guest speaker at a Saturday luncheon during the New Hampshire GOP's "First in the Nation Presidential Town Hall." Bevin, who took office last month, grew up in the Granite State.

His administration defended his decision to leave Kentucky while it was under a state of emergency.

His spokeswoman, Jessica Ditto, says the governor has been "directly involved in the management of this snow storm."

She says Bevin decided the weather situation was well-in-hand and that he would honor his commitment to speak in New Hampshire. She says the governor also was meeting with companies interested in Kentucky.

WFPL News

When Gov. Matt Bevin offers his first state budget proposal on Tuesday, it’s unclear how much money — if any — will be set aside for the Kentucky Arts Council, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Rumors have swirled on social media and in arts social circles during the past couple days concerning the future of the state agency.

Arts Council board member Wilma Brown of Frankfort sent an email to friends and supporters on Thursday, saying Bevin would seek to eliminate funding for the agency and asking recipients to contact their state representatives in protest.

“It is not clear whether an alternative agency will be formed or whether the arts will be folded into another agency,” Brown wrote. “In either case, oversight of the arts will become political with changes in personnel and programs with each election.”

Requests for information from Bevin’s office went unanswered. Lori Meadows, the Arts Council’s executive director, directed inquiries to the governor’s office.

Tennessee Valley Authority

On Thursday, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin announced his administration would seek an extension to comply with upcoming federal carbon dioxide regulations from power plans.

On the face of it, this isn’t surprising. Without an extension, the deadline to decide how Kentucky will reduce emissions is fast-approaching. It makes sense that the state would seek as much time as possible.

But piecing together the statement released by Bevin’s office and a brief interview I did with the Energy and Environment Cabinet raises more questions. While state regulators plan to ask the Environmental Protection Agency for two more years to consider their options, they seem opposed to every option that actually involves reducing the state’s carbon dioxide emissions.

The Clean Power Plan is calling for steep cuts in emissions from power plants. To do this, states have two options: Create a state plan or follow the federal plan.

There’s a third option Kentucky regulators are hoping for, which is that the judicial system overturns the regulation, and the EPA is forced to go back to the drawing board and spend years reformulating the regulations.

WFPL News

Less than a week before Gov. Matt Bevin gives his formal state budget proposal, Republican Senate President Robert Stivers, Bevin’s ally, gave an ominous prediction.

“I think this budget that will be introduced and proposed by the executive branch will be one of the most austere budgets that I’ve seen in my 20 years in the General Assembly,” Stivers said Wednesday on the Senate floor.

Bevin, a Republican, suggested just as much when he was campaigning, saying that the state would have to undergo “belt-tightening across the board” during a debate on KET.

At issue are mounting obligations in the state pension systems and Medicaid program. The Kentucky Teacher Retirement Systems has requested about $1 billion in additional contributions from the state to meet its obligations to retirees. Meanwhile, the state will have to start paying an increased share of a Medicaid program that was expanded and now covers an additional 400,000 Kentuckians. That’s expected to cost $250 million in 2017.

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo took a slightly more optimistic position, saying that the state is predicted to rake in more revenue over the next two years.

WFPL News

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has notified the federal government that Kentucky will dismantle its state health insurance exchange, Kynect.

The move will direct Kentuckians seeking health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, to use the federal health insurance site, healthcare.gov.

More than 500,000 people have gotten health insurance through Kynect.

In a statement from the governor’s office, Bevin spokeswoman Jessica Ditto called the program a “redundancy.”

“The transition will have no impact on Kentuckians’ ability to obtain or continue health care coverage for the 2016 plan year,” Ditto said.

WFPL News

For decades, Republicans have predicted that Kentucky was becoming a Red State.

The prediction seemed more reliable than ever late last year, when Matt Bevin was elected governor. Bevin, a Republican businessman, promised reforms seen currently in much of the conservative South.

“I think Kentucky is now moving into that red column, and we are joining our neighbors to the South,” said Steve Robertson, then the chairman of the Republican Party of Kentucky.

Bevin, who was supported by Tea Party factions in the Republican Party, promised to scale back the state’s expansion of Medicaid — which he started working on Wednesday — as well as setting his sights on other welfare programs in the state.

Among his proposals was a plan to drug-test welfare recipients. Bevin said during the Republican gubernatorial primary he would also take aim at what he calls “New Deal-type” programs.

The broad spectrum of plans from the new governor means Kentucky could start looking like the state’s southern neighbors, and welfare for low-income people could be scarcer than it’s been in the past couple decades.

WFPL News

More than two-thirds of Kentucky residents don’t want the state to roll back its expanded Medicaid system, according to a poll released Friday.

The Kaiser Family Foundation poll also shows that half of Kentucky residents hold unfavorable views of the Affordable Care Act, the federal law that allowed the state to expand Medicaid.

“Most of them would rather keep Medicaid as it is today than scale it back to cover fewer people,” said Liz Hamel, director of public opinion and survey research at Kaiser.

The poll found 72 percent of Kentuckians don’t want to scale back Medicaid expansion to cover fewer people.

entucky’s Medicaid expansion — and its fate — are a closely watch component of Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration. Bevin, a Republican who took office Tuesday, campaigned reforming the state’s adoption of the Affordable Care Act.

Incoming governor Matt Bevin has appointed retired coal executive Charles Snavely as secretary of the Energy and Environment Cabinet.

Snavely most recently served as the president of eastern U.S. operations for Arch Coal, the second-largest coal producer in the country.

In a statement, Bevin said Snavely’s professionalism and leadership experience are well-known in the industry.

“Charles understands the balance we must maintain between the commonwealth’s need for low-cost, reliable energy and the need for clean water and air for all Kentuckians,” Bevin said.

A GOP surge swept the state during Tuesday's election, winning Republicans the hard-fought race for Governor and ousting the incumbent Democratic state auditor:

GOVERNOR: Businessman Matt Bevin led the Republican takeover of Kentucky politics, winning election as only the second GOP governor in four decades. Bevin defeated Democrat Jack Conway with 52 percent of the vote. Independent Drew Curtis was a distant third with just more than 3 percent. Bevin cast himself as an outsider, in both government and politics. The 48-year-old investment manager has never held public office. Bevin's campaign was mostly self-funded, and he preferred to speak to small gatherings of voters instead of courting influential donors. His running mate, Jenean Hampton, is a retired Air Force officer who moved to Kentucky from Detroit. Her only political experience is a lopsided loss to the former speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives in 2014. Now, Hampton will become the first black person to ever hold statewide office in Kentucky.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Matt Bevin is urging Kentuckians to "vote your values and not your party" as he makes his final pitch ahead of Tuesday's election.

Bevin got a plug Monday from his one-time adversary, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, at his first campaign stop in Louisville.

Bevin is competing with Democrat Jack Conway to succeed two-term Gov. Steve Beshear.

McConnell says Bevin represents the change needed to make Kentucky more competitive.

McConnell and Bevin waged a bitter primary campaign fight last year, and Democrats have repeated some of McConnell's attacks against Bevin in this year's campaign.

Conway, the state's attorney general, says he will peel away plenty of Republic support from Bevin.

Conway says the race is a contrast "between the mainstream and the extreme."

Bevin and Conway are campaigning across Kentucky.

Democrat Jack Conway has significantly increased his TV ad spending in the final month of his campaign for governor.

Conway's campaign has spent $2.5 million to air more than 7,000 TV ads through Monday according to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity. Republican Matt Bevin has spent $1.3 million to air more than 4,500 ads.

That's up about $200,000 for Bevin from two weeks ago, but Conway's total jumped by about $800,000 in that time.

The data doesn't include radio, online or direct mail ads or TV ads aired on local cable systems. The estimates also don't include production costs.

Conway has $2.3 million in cash available to spend according to the latest disclosure reports. Bevin has more than $674,000 available, most coming from his personal wealth.

RGA Stops Running TV Ads in Kentucky Governor's Race

Sep 28, 2015

The Republican Governor's Association has stopped running TV ads for Matt Bevin in Kentucky with a little more than a month to go until Election Day.

The association has spent $3 million on six ads for Bevin, mostly attacking his Democratic opponent, Jack Conway, for supporting the policies of Democratic President Barack Obama. Association spokesman Jon Thompson said the group is evaluating its strategy and could go back on the air before November.

The move is a blow for Bevin, who has aired just one TV ad after spending more than $1 million of his own money to win a four-way Republican primary in May. A spokeswoman for Bevin said the campaign plans to start running a second TV ad on Wednesday and is in production for a third.

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