Because I have no life and love torturing myself, I decided to do a point-by-point breakdown of the Kentucky Gubernatorial debate that took place Tuesday at EKU. Now these aren’t the candidates full responses but rather points a synopsis of their statements.
Governor Steve Beshear (D): Believes he runs a clear, responsible government. Been fiscally responsible. Education is a priority for his administration, and believes the economy is turning around.
Gatewood Galbraith (I): Starts off his statement by making a joke to Williams and the crowd alluding to Beshear never showing up for debates (since he has a huge lead). Believes the state is bankrupt: $38 billion in debt. We need a governor who doesn’t care which party or which individual gets credit.
Senator David Williams (R): Governor races should be about the future. Directs people to his website for plans to get rid of corporate income tax. “We don’t need a caretaker.”
Question: Describe how your plan to get our economy back on track ensures everyone pays their fair share
G: Talks about the “Commonwealth Incentive Program” – which refunds education and creates job programs. Need to “show employers” that “our children can be trained to take part in their industry or in their worker training programs.” Wants to give each student a $5,000 voucher for books and tuition for any school in Kentucky “to train them into employability (Is that a word?)“. Wants to change the tax codes to be based primarily on consumption taxes.
W: Kentucky has double-digit unemployment. We’re not just competing with southern states, but with “the states that we affectionately call ‘The Rush Belt’”. (I couldn’t tell if he said “affectionately” or “effectually”. Either way it was out of place.) Wants to change tax structure; like Gatewood wants it to be consumption tax-based. Believes we need a “Right To Work” law, TORT reform and unemployment benefits reform.
B: Nothing is more important than jobs. He passed legislation that revised all economic incentive programs – even got Williams to vote for it. We now have companies that are growing and expanding. We now have over 350 companies in the state. The economy hasn’t fully rebounded yet, but we’re getting there.
G: We lost 94,000 jobs in the last two years. He asks”Where were all these great idea while (Beshear and Williams) were accepting paychecks from the people of the state of Kentucky? Why are they just now saying they have the answer?”
W: “Can’t pay real bills with potential jobs.”
“Government doesn’t need to pick the winners and losers.”
B: Tells people to visit the Economic Development website to see the agreements between the state and the corporations moving to the state. Asks the other candidates to go talk to people in the “community” and ask folks how excited they are for the new jobs. “Go talk to Senator Williams’ father-in-law, Terry Stephens of Stephens Pipe & Steel, who sat down with the Economic Development people & now have 25 new jobs in Russell County. It works, folks.”
(I checked out Beshear’s facts: It’s all true.)
Question: How would you stop partisan politics in Kentucky and make sure things got done?
W: Governor hasn’t been engaged in economic development in the state, outside of “(trying to) pick the winners and losers. It will take weekly meetings between Republican & Democratic lawmakers to reach a consensus on issues.” Thinks if you get people on your side and “the legislation will follow.” Said Republicans and Democrats work together more frequently than the newspapers report.
B: When he ran in 2007, he didn’t care if an idea was a Republican or a Democratic one, just as long as it was a good idea. He balanced the budget nine times through bipartisan leadership. (Great response, however it’s a slight twist of the truth. A candidate will bring it up later.)
G: Calls out Beshear – Says he hasn’t seen the bipartisan leadership Beshear is claiming in Frankfort. Says if you have a good idea, bring it to him since he actually doesn’t care who gets credit. (That gets a reaction from the invitation-only crowd, which has been told to hold their applause.)
W: Governor says he’s bipartisan, but that’s not true. Gives the example of Beshear’s own budget proposal, in which “(Beshear’s) own party says (it) should have been thrown in the trash.”
B: Says the “proof is in the pudding.” Repeats that he balanced the budget nine times, and the only way that’s possible is if he brought both parties together. Says he doesn’t care about people’s party affiliation.
G: Talks about a Herald-Leader article on how the jobs in the economic plan haven’t materialized. Mentions something that happened back in 1993, when former Secretary of Economic Development Gene Strong said that by 2012 80% of Kentuckians would be making $8/hr. Asks “who’s gonna buy the houses and cars?” Says the jobs better materialize and not be $8/hr. (I can’t find this quote anywhere outside of Gatewood’s website, so take that with a grain of salt.)
Question: The recent announcement of GE & Ford bringing jobs shows promise but what if you don’t have the skills for that type of work? What do you plan to do to improve the employment picture in Kentucky’s largest city (Louisville)?”
B: With GE we have brought back jobs from Mexico & China. Ford is investing over $600 million and adding a third shift at the essembly plant in Louisville. Ford has been closing plants everywhere, but not in Kentucky! (I’m sure Ford is thrilled he said that.) GE is doing the same! (Ditto.)
G: Goes back to Commonwealth Incentive. We need to have our students employable. We need to lure emerging industries into the state. “We will pay them to train our workers to work in their industry.” (This puzzled me. We’re going to give the companies with not only tax breaks, but also give them money to train people?)
W: Must take broader look at unemployment in state. “You can’t create enough jobs by the individual plans that try to overcome the structural barriers that we have in our state.” Have to change the system. We can’t just give rewards to corporate chieftons. Small businesses are just as important as the big corporations. “Right now there is a two tier wage system…What we do is give big incentives to companies & low paying jobs to the individuals who work there to start working now…Wages will go up when there is competition for jobs and that will be done by changing Kentucky’s work environment.”
B: “It’s obvious the economic incentive program is working because it bothers (Galbraith & Williams) tremendously to talk about it.” He then talks about Williams’ father-in-law getting a package over $1 million to create 25 new jobs.
G: Brings up the Kentucky “Ark Park”, where most jobs that were added were only $8/hr. Says we can’t tax the people working there: They’re the working poor. Says that incentive money is now going to people generally out-of-state, the landlords.
W: We were supposed to have a nationwide search for an Economic Development Secretary, “but low and behold Governor Beshear found him fight there in his office!” (Great line.) We need to depoliticize the whole process, and says our whole tax system is backwards.
Question: Many environmentalists have called for a ban on Mountain Top removal. Where do you stand on the issue?
G: Is against it completely. Believes it is overly destructive. Not against coal though. Wonders why do you HAVE to be pro-coal OR pro-green? Is against the $150 million a year coal subsidy; should put that back into education and funding medicare. Also wants to look for alternative forms of energy like hemp. (Gatewood used to run on a pro-marijuana legalization ticket, but has toned it down this year to focus more on the economy.)
W: Says coal is important to all of Kentucky (not one candidate would argue otherwise and expect to get elected) and that we need it “to compete with others…” (what?) He continues: “…when you do manufacturing jobs and it’s really important to the poorest of the poor because they use a higher percentage of their electricity…of their electricity than those more fortunate.” (That was a word for word transcript. If someone can explain that to me I’d love to hear it.) Supports mountain top removal. Also supports use of coal “any way that’s feasible.” This is also the first time Williams references Obama, this time saying Obama tried to kill coal production and connects it to Beshear.
B: Coal is vital to Kentucky. It allows us to attract other industries because of low-cost energy. Also “helps the national security of our country.” (I get what he was saying, but that remark by itself sounds stupid.) The only way you can do surface mining is if you can show a better and higher use for the land after it is done to leave it flat, such as a hospital or an airport.
G: Hardly any mining rules are enforced anymore, as evident “by the deaths of the 29 miners in a mine that had more than 10,000 safety infractions.” Thinks every penny of severance tax that is generated by the minerals extracted from the county should go right back to that county.
W: Can’t enforce the rules if you can’t get the permits. (Cryptic remark) Has another Obama reference (to the lack of permits approved by the administration) and Beshear’s continued support of Obama’s reelection.
B: We fought the Obama administration and the EPA when we thought they were being “arbitrary and unreasonable.” Filed suit along with the Kentucky Coal Association against both. Doesn’t want to rely on countries “who don’t like us” for our energy.
Question: Kentucky Downs instituted instant racing, with Family Foundation standing in opposition to that. What is your position on expanded gaming in Kentucky and how do you justify that position?
W: Opposes it. If it is ever expanded, it should be done by a Constitutional Amendment. Governor said he would propose an amendment and get it through the General Assembly but he’s never been able to get it passed the House, which was overwhelmingly controlled by his own party. Thinks slot machines are the worst enemy of those at racetracks. Says Beshear doesn’t have a plan to help the racing industry, so he just wants to blame everyone else.
B: We are in danger of losing the horse industry here in Kentucky, and the 100,000 jobs associated with it, due to every state competing against us with expanded gambling, which is also supplementing their purses. The Senate won’t let the amendment come to a vote. They passed the bill in the House, sent it to the Senate where Williams wouldn’t let it come to a vote. Beshear then references David Williams gambling losses from out-of-state. Says he wants to keep people “like Senator Williams” in state.
G: The failure for expanded gaming points to poor leadership. Believes if it passes, it should be a state run enterprise, and not owned or operated by a private business, “like the injuns do!” (yes, he said “injuns”) Says we have to increase the purses. “There’s only one function to thoroughbreds: run around an oval. They’re too expensive to eat and they won’t pull a plow, so we need to do something about keeping it here.”
W: “If the Governor owned a horse, he would call it ‘Cheap Shot’. because that’s all he’s been doing tonight.” (Boo. Also, that’s not a cheap shot.) (At this point Williams starts to ramble, avoiding Beshear’s point)
B: “Williams should say he’s willing to step out of the way and let the Senate vote (on the issue.)”
G: Talks some more about Indian casinos. Proposes the state-owned casinos giving higher returns to gamblers than those in Vegas and Atlantic City. Wants to make it a “tourist Mecca.”
Question: Over the last decade, tuition at Kentucky’s public universities has more than doubled. UK Student Body President says it’s time to draw the line on tuition increases. Will you be the governor to make that happen?
B: No Kentuckian should be denied higher education due to costs. Urged the Post-Secondary Education Council to keep the costs down. While we have trimmed the budget, we have not cut student financial aid or KEES scholarships.
G: Yet again goes back to the Commonwealth Incentive (on freezing tuition.) Also goes back to the Gene Strong point. This time, he brings up the P.S. Secondary council wanting to double the numbers of Bachelors Degrees by 2020, “but are we going to give them the $8/hr jobs?” “Someone who fixes a transmission, someone who can fix an air conditioner is going to be far more valuable than someone who has a master’s in English Lit!”
W: In the 2008 budget proposal, Beshear proposed a cut to higher education funding, and he also played around with the KEES scholarship money. Beshear wanted to bond $800 million in KEES Scholarship money for current expenses. Believes the cost of higher education in Kentucky is still a good deal. Says we need to create a better economy with higher paying jobs in Kentucky first.
B: Says Williams told him to cut everything across the board, including education, when they were balancing the budget.
G: We’re $38 billion in debt. How is that a balanced budget? We’re borrowing against the future.
W: Beshear has never balanced a budget. We have an unbalanced budget right now! We’re $200 million short this year!
Question: What would you do to ensure Kentucky’s road and bridges are maintained in the future? (about Sherman Minton Bridge)
G: It’s going to take tax dollars. State is shoveling $2 billion to private corporations for “private service contracts” work. That’s all greed and corruption. We should take a million or more of that and put it somewhere else. Brings up the consumption tax once more.
W: Louisville’s bridges are a tremendous problem. Williams and former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson pushed for an Infrastructure Authority, but now under Beshear it had slowed down. This should be the #1 project in the state.
B: Governor Daniels (R – Indiana) and Beshear have worked together on the Sherman Minton bridge. The Louisville Bridge Project has gone farther in the last two years with me & Daniels working together than it’s gone in 40 years. We are now within a year of “putting a spade in the ground.”
G: “These people have been in office all this time. It is amazing how educated they have become to the problems of the state of Kentucky…but it never seems to come to the forefront until it’s election time.”
W: “If you believe that there will be a ‘spade in the ground’ on the Ohio River Bridge project in 10 months when there’s not a finance plan in place, there’s no approach or theory on forms they are going to use…If you’re in Louisville you ought to be mad as fire!” Says Beshear wants to wait until after the election to mention to the public that there will be tolls to build the bridge.
B: We brought in a transportation secretary to make sure everything is transparent and ethical. We rooted out problems and tax payers are now getting their money’s worth.
Question: During the last session of the general assembly, a bill to make psuedoephedrine a prescription drug did not pass. Do you feel pseudoephedrine needs to be a prescription drug, and if not, how would you fight the meth epidemic?
W: Supported that bill. Conceded that making pseudoephedrine more difficult to get wouldn’t do much for the meth problem. “We need to do something to help the very real problem of our first responders & innocents who innocently run across the meth labs.” References Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton getting injured during a meth lab bust. Says pharmaceutical companies “misrepresented the people of the Commonwealth” by saying “we” were going to take all cold medicines off the market. In fact, “very few people actually need pseudoephedrine”. He will work very hard to fight the meth problem.
B: Saw a study that showed “we’re losing more people to overdoses than to car wrecks,” and that is “unacceptable.” Him, Greg Stumbo and Jack Conway announced some measures to attack the prescription drug abuse problem, including the out-of-state pill mills.
G: Was originally against making it a prescription drug, but has seen up close the damage it’s caused families and is now for it. Says pill addiction has “crippled” the state. Wants to sue the pharmaceutical companies for almost $1 billion to fund drug treatment programs. Refers people to “Iboga”, a 24-hour treatment/cure (he went back and forth with the description) for opiate addiction.
W: Says Beshear didn’t take a position in his answer. “Typical Beshear answer.”
“Doesn’t take a position on anything.” Says we need bold leadership in Frankfort.
B: “We” have taken a lot of steps to fight drug abuse. Formed up an interstate task force with Ohio, West Virginia and Tennessee. Also “finally forced Florida” to put in a monitoring program, to shut down the pipeline.
G: ‘We can take the money we’re using or arresting college students for using marijuana and arresting the sick and dying for trying to take marijuana as a medicine (…) and put it into going after the hard drug users.” Says it will help with the costs of health care.
Question: Do you support a state-wide smoking ban?
B: Supports local communities deciding for themselves.
G: Opposes it.
W: Local approach seems to be working.
Question: What specifically have you done to engage women and minorities in your campaign?
G: “Take a look at my running mate!”
W: Mentions Yearlings Organization debate where Beshear was absent. It’s important to engage everyone.
B: There are minorities and women in top spots in the campaign and in our government.
Question: Cats, Cards, Hilltoppers or Colonels?
B: “I’m for all those Kentucky teams.” (laugh from audience)
G: “I’ll be darned if I’m gonna fracture my base. I’m for all of them too.”
W: “Merry Christmas, everyone.” (That’s his actual response)
Question: What kind of car do you drive?
G: Daughters 1996 Lexus “and I still owe her for it.”
W: Lincoln. I always drive Ford products.
B: “I drive a Ford Hybrid Escape, my wife drives a Toyota Four Runner.”
G: There’s a deal between “Mr. Beshear and Mr. Abramson that if Mr. Beshear wins, after two years he’ll resign and Mr. Abramson will have that spot. (Never heard that before) If you want Mr. Abramson to be your governor, that’s your ticket.” David Williams can not win the race; the polls show it. “A vote for me is a vote for your conscience.”
B: Senator Williams would love to bring a Washington-esque atmosphere to Kentucky, where party politics are more important than the public. I have brought people together. We’ve had a tough time, but the state is turning a corner. “I can promise you this: I will not rest until every Kentuckian who needs a job, HAS a job.”
W: “Yesterday was Columbus Day. Steve Beshear reminds me of Columbus: He was mistaken about where he was going, he didn’t know where he was when he was there and when he got back he didn’t know where he’d been and he did it all on borrowed money.” (Crowd applause) Says Beshear has “no agenda”. Says Kentucky needs someone who is pro-life, and who will stand up to Obama.
Overall I think It was a tie between Gatewood and Beshear. Williams at times seems annoyed, especially when Beshear brought up Williams’ gambling. Gatewood was typical Gatewood: blunt, occasionally rambling but personable. Beshear did a good job focusing on his strengths and accomplishments while in office. Williams didn’t offer any specific plans of his own, unlike Beshear and Gatewood. I would have preferred it if Gatewood would have expounded upon his plans for the state instead of referencing his website. I’m sure it’s more detailed than what you could deliver at that moment, but the majority of people aren’t going to the website while you’re talking about it.
The next debate between the candidates is on Halloween, Monday October 31st.