Some of my friends in Kentucky call their party governor, Matt Bevin, “Kim Jong Bevin” or “Governor Bevis.” After all, he has a tendency to make unhinged and tone-deaf remarks that would rival North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-un or Beavis from “Beavis and Butthead.” But Bevin may have outdone himself on Friday night. He claimed that by protesting his desire to take a meat ax to education funding, teachers may bear responsibility for kids being sexually assaulted.
Back in January, Bevin proposed significant cuts to funding for public schools and universities. Among other things, he wanted to make school districts pay for transportation and health insurance costs. On paper, this looked like a slam dunk. The Republicans have complete control of Kentucky’s state government after Donald Trump’s long coattails in 2016 gave them supermajorities in both chambers.
However, Bevin’s budget proved a tough sell even for his fellow Republicans. They passed tax reform and budget bills that generated an additional $480 million in funding for schools, and found a way to pay for transportation and health insurance.
Bevin vetoed the bills, prompting the Kentucky Education Association to call for a “day of action” at the state capitol in Frankfort on Friday. They warned that if the vetoes held, Bevin could present an even crueler budget at a special session. In response, teachers across the Commonwealth took the day off, forcing 40 school districts to close for the day–including the state’s largest, Jefferson County, home to Louisville.
The pressure paid off when the legislature voted to override both of Bevin’s vetoes. But Bevin was visibly smarting at this sharp rebuke from a legislature owned by his own party. He told reporters that kids were at risk for severe harm due to the schools being shut down. Watch here, via WLKY in Louisville.
Bevin lashed out at teachers for supposedly not considering the needs of kids whose parents can’t afford day care.
“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. I guarantee you somewhere today, a child was physically harmed or ingested poison because they were left alone because a single parent didn’t have any money to take care of them.”
Bevin claimed that “hundreds of thousands” of Kentucky’s kids were left alone, and was “offended” that teachers were so “flippant” in staying home and forcing schools to close for the day. He railed that the teachers didn’t consider the needs of parents who “don’t get paid whether they go to work or not” when they decided to stay home on short notice. As a result, Bevin claimed, “children were harmed”–either by being sexually assaulted or exposed to drugs–when they should have been in school.
When KEA president Stephanie Winkler heard this, she said, in a colossal understatement, that she was “appalled.” So was Jefferson County Teachers Association president Brent McKim, who told Bevin that they had “overwhelming support and encouragement” from parents who knew Bevin’s plan would harm kids.
Democrats in the state house rushed out with a resolution formally censuring Bevin for these outrageous and callous remarks.
Lest you think it won’t go anywhere, some of Bevin’s fellow Republicans were outraged that Bevin would blame teachers for kids being assaulted. Take state senate majority whip Mike Wilson, for instance.
Additionally, a petition on Change.org demanding that Bevin apologize for “trivializing the experiences of those who have been assaulted” has garnered over 3,200 signatures as of Saturday afternoon. That’s the only further thing we need to hear from Bevin on this matter.
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