After “remember in November” turned out to be basically a hollow threat, Gov. Matt Bevin recently felt comfortable enough to take another swipe at teachers and the Kentucky Education Association.
Our governor said the KEA, which he calls a union but technically is not under Kentucky law, “suffocates” good teachers and uses its membership dues “to maintain power for a handful.”
His rant continued: “... Breaking the backs of the teachers’ union in this state as the controlling interest in Frankfort is going to be one of the best things that ever happened for Kentucky.”
Bevin also told his audience of county officials that the teachers’ unions “use teachers’ dues to undermine what’s best for this state … at the expense of the students and their parents.”
The governor had kept his feud with teachers and the KEA on a lower profile until after the general election because of threats by education leaders to punish the Republican-dominated General Assembly at the polls, perhaps even flipping the House back to Democratic control.
However, that didn’t happen, although the GOP majority decreased slightly in the lower chamber, it improved in the Senate.
When results were tabulated, the Republicans maintained their super majority in
both chambers and could pass a bill and the budget in the 2019 session without a single Democratic vote.
Bevin’s fight with teachers began during the 2018 session when he encouraged the General Assembly to make changes in the pension systems for public employees.
Thousands of teachers and other public workers flooded the Capitol during the session to protest the changes. A bill incorporating the changes was passed and signed by the governor but later ruled unconstitutional in the courts.
Bevin frequently touts the anti-union legislation he has supported, including passage of right-to-work and repeal of state prevailing wage.
We believe KEA President Stephanie Winkler was right as rain when she characterized Bevin’s latest tirade in this fashion: “Once again, the governor’s comments show his disdain and lack of respect for educators in Kentucky.”
In our view, the governor was correct when he predicted that the KEA would strongly oppose his reelection bid next year.
Based on Bevin’s historically low approval ratings this year, teachers won’t be alone in their fight against him.