Mayor Jack Rose greets Governor Bevin at Murray City Hall.
Mayor Jack Rose marked the momentous occasion that Governor Matt Bevin is the first governor to visit the new Murray City Hall. The bank building turned municipal building on the court square is an impressive conversion.
Bevin was in Murray to hold a town hall meeting. About 100 attended the standing room only event.
Questions from the audience ranged from "What is a charter school?" to queries about taxing services like auto repair to the new state pension system to economic development.
When asked about increasing corporate taxes "just a little" the Governor disagreed that corporate taxes are a good idea. "
Bevin stated his objection to corporate and capital taxes. "Why do we tax the wealth producers?"
Teachers at the town hall meeting expressed dismay to the Governor for remarks like the one below:
"I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today, a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them," Bevin told reporters Friday evening after teachers swarmed the Capitol by the thousands over a battle to raise education funding in the state.
He explained that his statement sexual abuse of children when schools were closed was not a slam on teachers, but just a fact that predators look for children home alone. He called his remarks about the danger to children home alone "factual reality."
He offered to pay $1000 for corroborated evidence, audio, video of "me ever saying that about a teacher. It doesn't exist. "Not what someone said I said." It wasn't exactly clear what statement needed to be produced to earn that bonus.
Later the Governor apologized for the sexual abuse remark after a storm of criticism. Governor Bevin apologizes for comments Washington Post 4/15/18
In answer to a confused Calloway Countian asking about charter schools, Bevin said he wasn't sure what Kentucky charter schools would look like because there are none yet. He said they would not be private. The potential exists that money allocated to existing schools will be divided up. If there are five schools where there were four, then the pot for each gets smaller. But, he said, if schools don't have students, they don't need the funds.
Bevin expressed disbelief that charter schools would affect rural areas, but will be used in metro districts, like Jefferson County. The Governor is currently at war with Jefferson County School System that the state is proposing to take over.
Linda Cherry asked about the use of sales taxes on some services but not others. Small animal veterinary practices pay sales tax on treatment under the new Republican tax plan. Large animal vet treatment does not.
Bevin said he was "Not fully sure" what the rationale was for the difference. He vetoed that provision but the Legislature overrode his veto.
The Governor didn't appear convinced that cutting university funding in the present budget was all bad. He spent a considerable amount of time discussing alternatives to college education. This despite a cordial welcome from Murray State President Davies, shown at right.
At one point, Bevin told the crowd that "there is a difference between large corporations and small. "Capital goes where it is welcome."
He told the crowd that a signature company, Ashland Oil, was leaving Kentucky for Delaware. Ironically, Delaware has rejected right to work legislation which Bevin credited for a new Korean auto plant coming to Murray.
Bevin spoke at length on how much better Tennessee's tax structure is than Kentucky's. Tennessee has no income tax. The consumption (sales) tax is considerably higher. Tennessee state sales tax is 7% and taxes on food are 5%. Local municipal sales taxes can run that number up to 9.75%.
Bevin said that is preferable to income taxes because those who buy more will pay more. However, sales taxes are considered regressive taxes because the poor spend a higher percentage of their incomes on taxable items. Income taxes are considered progressive because those who earn more will pay more taxes.
Asked about tariffs, Governor Bevin asserted he does not like tariffs and "neither does President Trump." He called tariffs "self serving" but predicted American tariffs would drive other countries to the bargaining table.
Susan Guess, a member of the MSU Board, complimented the Governor for his support of her daughter's anti bullying legislation which was passed by the General Assembly in the 2018 session.
Governor Bevin spent an average of 12-15 minutes answering each question and stayed over an hour and a half with the audience.
After the town hall meeting on Thursday, the Governor spent the weekend at a Koch brothers retreat with 500 conservative donors who commit to giving $100,000 a year to Koch initiatives. Courier Journal: Bevin spends weekend at Koch brothers retreat