Teachers Question Gov. Bevin On Tax Breaks For Corporations To Fund Pensions, Education

Jul 27, 2018

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin addressed a packed room at Murray City Hall on Friday. He fielded questions from attendees that ranged from alternative fixes for the state’s ailing pension system to his opinion on President Donald Trump’s retaliatory tariffs.

Tax Breaks For Corporations To Fund Pension System And Education

Bevin said funding for pensions and education cannot be achieved by taking away tax breaks for corporations. Several teachers in the audience pressed him on why Kentucky’s ailing pension system couldn’t be saved by taking tax breaks away from corporations.

He said he believes raising taxes--even by a small amount--for those companies would make them move to neighboring states that would tax them less.

“People go over the border...the reason Dollar General left here, the reason Yum! left here- they had enough,” Bevin said. “At what point what’s going to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back? The reality is why should we tax the wealth producers...the people who make the jobs?”

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin addressed a packed room at Murray City Hall in Murray, Ky. on Friday.
Credit Taylor Inman / WKMS

Bevin asked audience members who owned businesses if they would want their taxes raised. Murray State professor Chris Mitchell said there was a difference between a small business and a corporation. Bevin disagreed, saying there wasn’t a difference between them “on paper.”

Retaining Teachers And Backlash For Previous Comments

Several teachers in the audience voiced concerns about incentivizing educators to stay in Kentucky after the recent pension overall. Bevin said he doesn’t think teachers will want to leave Kentucky to work in other states with higher pay. He said teachers don’t go into their profession to “make money.”

“None of them go in expecting their going to do well financially in life, they do it as a passion and as a calling,” Bevin said. “The result of which is that if relative to other places making as much or more, they’re not going to go chasing a dollar in some other state. So don’t worry about that- because I know the motivations of the vast majority of teachers are very different than what that would imply.”  

He said Kentucky teachers are paid more than the average teacher in the United States when cost of living is included. NPR reports that average the average salary for Kentucky teachers, when adjusting for cost of living, is $60,927.  The national average for that year $55,521. However, NPR also reported:

Before we get into the numbers, a few quick caveats: There is obviously wide variation in the costs of living within states, too, that these numbers can't clearly capture. In some cases, deep pockets of veteran teachers may also conceal low pay for young teachers. If you're curious to know what states pay their starting teachers, EdBuild has looked at that, too.

Trump’s Tariffs

When an audience member asked Bevin if he agreed with Trump’s recent tariffs against many U.S. allies, Bevin said that he is not a fan and doesn’t think that there should be tariffs in either direction.

“I truly believe that we should have not just free trade, but fair trade,” Bevin said.

Bevin said tariffs have existed for two reasons: to protect a nascent industry that is growing and to take money out of people’s pockets.

“They know the world wants to buy American products, so when we sell it, they say you can buy them, but we, the government of ‘XYZ country’ is going to take money out of your pocket for our government use in order for you to have an American product,” Bevin said.

Fancy Farm Picnic

Bevin said he has not decided if he will make an appearance at the Fancy Farm Picnic on August 4. The Fancy Farm picnic in Graves County is a stump-style political event known for barbecue and a spirited atmosphere. The annual event is a fundraiser for St. Jerome Catholic Church. Bevin’s political rival Attorney General Andy Beshear announced his run for governor earlier this month and will be speaking at the event. Bevin has not yet announced if he will run for governor in 2019.