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Candidates for Governor

Renee Shaw hosts a discussion involving candidates for governor. Guests: Attorney General Andy Beshear, Democrat, and Governor Matt Bevin, Republican.
Season 26 Episode 37 Length 56:33 Premiere: 10/28/19


Kentucky Tonight

KET’s Kentucky Tonight, hosted by Renee Shaw, brings together an expert panel for in-depth analysis on major issues facing the Commonwealth.

This weekly program features comprehensive discussions with lawmakers, stakeholders and policy leaders that are moderated by award-winning journalist Renee Shaw. Often aired live, viewers are encouraged to participate by submitting questions real-time via email, Twitter or KET’s online form.
For nearly three decades, Kentucky Tonight has been a source for complete and balanced coverage of the most urgent and important public affairs developments in the state of Kentucky.

Viewers with questions and comments may send e-mail to or use the contact form. All messages should include first and last name and town or county. The phone number for viewer calls during the program is 1-800-494-7605.

After broadcast, Kentucky Tonight programs are available on and via podcast (iTunes or Android). Files are normally accessible within 24 hours after the television broadcast.

Kentucky Tonight was awarded a 1997 regional Emmy by the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The series was also honored with a 1995 regional Emmy nomination.

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Renee Shaw is Moderator and Director of Public Affairs for Kentucky Educational Television, currently serving as host of KET’s Kentucky Tonight, Connections, election coverage, Legislative Update and KET Forums.

Since joining KET in 1997, Shaw has produced numerous KET public affairs series and specials, including KET’s nationally recognized legislative coverage. Under her leadership, KET has expanded its portfolio of public affairs content to include Kentucky Supreme Court coverage, town hall-style forums, and multi-platform program initiatives around issues such as opioid addiction and youth mental health.  

As an award-winning journalist, Shaw has earned top awards from the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, earning two regional Emmy awards, and an award from the Kentucky Associated Press for political coverage of the state legislature. She was inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame in 2017. She has been honored by the AKA Beta Gamma Omega Chapter with a Coretta Scott King Spirit of Ivy Award; earned the state media award from the Kentucky Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 2019; named a Charles W. Anderson Laureate by the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet in 2019 honoring her significant contributions in addressing socio-economic issues; earned the Anthony Lewis Media Award from the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy for her work on criminal justice reform in 2014; and, in 2015, received the Green Dot Award for her coverage of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.  

In 2018, KET earned a national media award from Mental Health America for its multi-dimensional content on the opioid epidemic shepherded by Shaw. That same year, she co-produced and moderated a six-part series on youth mental health that was awarded first place in educational content by NETA, the National Educational Telecommunications Association. In 2019, Shaw was recognized by The Kentucky Gazette as one of the 50 most notable women in Kentucky politics and government. In addition, Renee was awarded the Charles W. Anderson Laureate Award by the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions in addressing socio-economic issues.

Host Renee Shaw smiling in a green dress with a KET set behind her.

Candidates for Governor

Candidates competing in the race for governor of the commonwealth appeared on KET’s Kentucky Tonight.

This was the last in a series of discussions with candidates running for statewide constitutional offices in the 2019 election season.

Attorney General Andy Beshear and Gov. Matt Bevin talked about public education, pensions, jobs and wages, state revenues, and health care.

The Candidates

Democrat Andy Beshear is a graduate of Vanderbilt and the University of Virginia School of Law. He worked for an international law firm in Washington, D.C., and in private practice in Louisville before being elected Kentucky’s attorney general in 2015. Beshear previously served on the boards of the University of Louisville and Greater Louisville, Inc.

Incumbent Republican Matt Bevin is a native of New Hampshire, a U.S. Army veteran, and a Louisville businessman. He has owned or invested in multiple companies that range from manufacturing to investment services to medical devices. Following an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate in 2014, Bevin was elected to the governor’s office in 2015.

Support for Public Schools and Teachers

The governor touts the investments he’s made in public education, including fully funding the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System, increasing per-pupil funding for schools to record levels, and allocating all Kentucky Lottery proceeds to education. He also dismisses concerns that he has insulted teachers with comments he made over school funding and pension reform during his first term.

“Nothing that I’ve said about educators do I regret,” says Bevin. “You’ll find that I’ve had many, many choice words about the KEA, the teacher’s union, not about teachers themselves.”

Beshear says he would make public education the top funding priority of his administration. He also wants to give all public school teachers a $2,000 pay raise, which would cost the state an estimated $80 million. Beshear also pledges to shrink class sizes, improve school security, boost mental health care for students, and bring more technology to the classroom.

The Question of Gaming

Beshear says he would fund these changes by enacting expanded gaming in the commonwealth. He says that would bring $550 million in new revenues to state coffers, which he plans to allocate to the public pension systems. The Democrat says that would free up General Fund moneys that could go to education and other budget needs.

Bevin argues that Beshear’s gaming revenue projections are overly optimistic. The governor is also concerned that gaming comes with too high a social cost, including an increased number of suicides.

Earlier this month, Republican leaders in the Kentucky Senate said they would not consider any gaming legislation proposed by Beshear should he be elected governor. Bevin says that leaves Beshear with no viable revenue options to fund his agenda.

The attorney general says his proposal is different because it’s the first to dedicate 100% of gambling revenues to the pensions. He also argues that expanded gaming could be enacted through simple legislation.

Between increasing the state sales tax or allowing more gambling, Beshear says he prefers gaming. He says a higher sales tax puts more financial burden on low-income Kentuckians, while gaming redirects money that’s already being spent.

“We’re not taking any more dollars from people, we’re just keeping them here,” says Beshear. “This is about making sure, since Kentuckians are already gaming, that we keep those dollars in state.”

The Democrat says he would also enact medical marijuana and tax it, close corporate and personal tax loopholes that benefit the wealthy, and end tax breaks for companies that create low-wage jobs.

Bevin says the state needs more revenues, but he wants to get it through pro-business policies that promote overall economic growth.

“How are we going to get increased dollars for our pensions, how are going to get increased dollars for our roads?” says Bevin. “The only way to get it is to have more people in this state working.”

But the Republican adds that a higher gas tax “has to happen” for the state to fund much-needed road and bridge projects.

Public Pension Obligations

On the issue of pensions, Bevin says he’s the only governor to be honest with Kentuckians about the state’s pension plans, which he says are mired in unfunded liabilities totaling more than $60 billion. He says he’s not pushing pension costs down to city and county governments, but he admits that taxpayers are on the hook to pay off these debts.

With more retirees than active employees, Bevin says the systems are not financially or demographically sustainable. He says the benefit structure must be changed for future hires, but he says even that won’t address the existing unfunded liabilities.

“It stops the digging,” says Bevin. “We still would have 30 years worth of paying off $60-plus billion, which means that future governors and future legislators are going to have to be required by law to pay off this obligation.”

Beshear says the pension obligations can be paid from the dedicated revenue generated by expanded gaming, not by cutting retiree benefits or by raising taxes on Kentuckians.

“We don’t pay teachers enough to educate our children. We don’t pay law enforcement enough to protect our communities. We don’t pay social workers enough to go into a home to protect the neglected,” says Beshear. “But what we tell them is we will make it up to them on the back end with a secure retirement.”

Jobs and Wages

Bevin contends the state has seen 57,000 new jobs along with record-low unemployment since he took office four years ago. He also says average salaries in the commonwealth have increased nearly 4% in the last year and that the state also has attracted $22 billion in new business investments during his first term. The governor says that growth along with a more favorable tax climate will pay off for the commonwealth with even more jobs and higher wages in the future.

Beshear contends that most Kentuckians aren’t sharing in that prosperity. He says many families are working harder than ever but falling further behind because of higher food and prescription drug costs. He also says many rural counties have seen higher unemployment and lower per capita incomes.

The Democrat says one of his first acts as governor would be to ensure pay equity between male and female state workers. In the private sector, Beshear wants to foster more advanced manufacturing, health care, and agri-technology jobs.

“We can create six-figure [income] jobs from everything from the science in the seed, to the technology on the tractor, to the data analytics to predict weather,” says Beshear. “It’s how we take our farming and move it into the future.”

Health Care Issues

Beshear calls health care a “basic human right” and says he would immediately rescind the Bevin Administration’s Medicaid waiver application upon taking office. That waiver requires people in the Medicaid expansion population to work, volunteer, or go to school 20 hours a week, and to pay small premiums and copays.

“It will result in people not having coverage,” says Beshear.

The Republican says if his waiver plan is struck down, he will be forced to end Medicaid expansion, because, he contends, the state can’t afford to pay the Medicaid costs of able-bodied individuals who he says chose not to work.

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Season 26 Episodes

Public Education Issues for the 2020 General Assembly

S26 E43 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 12/16/19

Gubernatorial Transition

S26 E42 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 12/09/19

City and County Issues

S26 E41 Length 56:36 Premiere Date 11/25/19

Hemp's Impact

S26 E40 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 11/18/19

Election 2019 Recap

S26 E39 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 11/11/19

Election 2019 Preview

S26 E38 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 11/04/19

Candidates for Governor

S26 E37 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/28/19

Lieutenant Governor Candidates

S26 E36 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/21/19

Attorney General Candidates

S26 E35 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/14/19

Secretary of State

S26 E34 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 10/07/19

Commissioner of Ag; Auditor of Public Accounts; State Treas

S26 E33 Length 1:26:40 Premiere Date 09/30/19

K-12 Public Education

S26 E32 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 09/09/19

Public Assistance and Government Welfare Programs

S26 E31 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 08/26/19

Energy in Kentucky

S26 E30 Length 56:40 Premiere Date 08/12/19

Public Pension Reform

S26 E29 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 07/29/19

Quasi-Governmental Pensions

S26 E28 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 07/22/19


S26 E27 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 07/15/19

Public Education

S26 E24 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 07/16/19

Immigration and Border Security

S26 E23 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 07/08/19

Prospects for Criminal Justice Reform

S26 E22 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 07/01/19

Issues in the 116th Congress

S26 E21 Length 56:37 Premiere Date 06/24/19

Trends Influencing the 2019 General Election

S26 E20 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 06/10/19

Previewing the 2019 Primary Election

S26 E19 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 05/20/19

Democratic Primary Candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor

S26 E18 Length 1:56:41 Premiere Date 05/13/19

Republican Attorney General Candidates, Primary Race 2019

S26 E17 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 04/15/19

Candidates for Secretary of State 2019 Primary

S26 E16 Length 1:26:35 Premiere Date 04/08/19

State Auditor; State Treasurer, Primary Election 2019

S26 E15 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 04/01/19

Commissioner of Agriculture, Primary Election

S26 E14 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 03/25/19

2019 General Assembly

S26 E13 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 03/18/19

Legislation in the 2019 General Assembly

S26 E12 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 03/18/19

Ongoing Debate on Sports Betting

S26 E12 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 02/25/19

Bail Reform

S26 E11 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/18/19

Medical Marijuana

S26 E10 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/04/19

Recapping the Start of the 2019 General Assembly

S26 E8 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/14/19

2019 General Assembly

S26 E7 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/07/19

Special Session on Pensions/Education Issues

S26 E6 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 12/17/18

Medicaid in Kentucky

S26 E5 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 12/10/18

Immigration Issues

S26 E4 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 12/03/18

Mass Shootings, Gun Safety, and Concealed Carry Laws

S26 E3 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 11/19/18

Recap of Election 2018

S26 E2 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 11/13/18

Election 2018 Preview

S26 E1 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 11/05/18

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