Skip to Main Content

Senate President Robert Stivers

Host Bill Goodman and Senate President Robert Stivers discuss the 2016 Kentucky General Assembly.
Season 11 Episode 1 Length 28:02 Premiere: 01/03/16

Senate President Robert Stivers

For only the second time in his two decades in Frankfort, Sen. Robert Stivers will get to serve with a GOP governor. And as state Senate President, Stivers is eager to get to work with Gov. Matt Bevin and his new administration.

“Whether you agree with him or not, [Bevin] brings an outsider’s excitement into the equation, which is really refreshing,” says Stivers.

The Manchester Republican appeared on KET’s One to One to preview the 2016 General Assembly session and discuss the priorities he has for the state Senate.

Stivers says he’s impressed with the people Bevin has selected for his cabinet and the depth of experience those individuals bring. He says they will help Bevin navigate the duties of the office, and help the first-time governor avoid some of the mistakes the last Republican administration made. Stivers says Gov. Ernie Fletcher, who served from 2003 – 2007, didn’t have much of a GOP talent pool to draw from, which left him to build his cabinet around younger and less experienced people.

The Senate President says Bevin’s election also created a power shift in Frankfort. For the past several years, Stivers says the dynamic had been between him and former Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat. Although they didn’t agree on significant issues like right to work or tort reform, Stivers says he and Beshear found ways to work together on policies on which they could find consensus.

Now that a Republican is in the executive office, Stivers says the dynamic will be between Bevin and Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo. Stivers says he hopes Stumbo will reach out to Bevin like he did with Beshear.

Tight Deadline for a New Budget
Given the brief time between Election Day and the inauguration, Bevin has had to hit the ground running. Not only does he have more positions to fill in his administration, he also has to present his budget to legislators by Jan. 26.

“The ultimate policy document is the budget,” Stivers says. “If you want to talk about education, you want to talk about infrastructure, you want to talk about public services,… it all depends on what type of dollars you have to effectuate the policies surrounding that budget.”

Stivers says the biggest challenges to building that budget will be to find the money the state needs to fund basic operations and pay for the Medicaid expansion (roughly $250 million during the new biennium) and to stabilize the public employee and teacher pension systems (upwards of $700 million, according to the senator).

Stivers says Bevin’s team understands the enormity of the pension problem and the challenges that it creates for Kentucky’s economy. But Stivers says he doesn’t think Bevin will raise taxes as a way to generate more revenue for the state retirement plans. Instead Stivers says he thinks a good model to follow is a tax break that lawmakers gave the bourbon industry in 2014. Distillers received a corporate tax credit that they could use to expand their Kentucky operations and hire more employees.

“Nobody was exposed to any more taxes,” Stivers says, “we just brought more people in to pay taxes.”

An Overhaul for Mediciad
Stivers criticizes former Gov. Beshear for his unilateral use of an executive order to expand Medicaid eligibility in the commonwealth. He says Beshear’s action was perfectly legal under an old law, but he says the matter would’ve been better handled in collaboration with the legislature.

But the Republican does credit Beshear for adding certain incentives to the health coverage of state employees, and Stivers says that’s how the Mediciad system should be amended.

“It’s been shown that copays [and] incentives to have healthier lifestyles truly are habit-changing and can save a lot of money to the system,” Stivers says.

Like Gov. Bevin, Stivers touts the Indiana model for Medicaid in which customers have to make small premium payments and have modest copays for certain medical services. He says the Hoosier plan emphasizes incentives for healthy behaviors and asks that benficiaries have “skin in the game.”

“That type of model, I think, is productive for everybody in any type of scenario where you have government,” Stivers says. “That everybody has a little bit of shared sacrifice, everybody has reason to be responsible.”

The senator also says Indiana garnered the support of the health care community for their plan because the providers were involved in helping to craft it and because the Hoosier model uses higher reimbursement rates for Medicaid services.

Priorities for the Senate
“We are going to be about education,” Stivers says of his hopes for the 2016 session. “Education is a great equalizer.”

Stivers says Senate Republicans will propose performance-based funding for the state’s public colleges and universities, explore an overhaul to workforce development programs, and present a series of initiatives for K-12 education, including a push for charter schools.

The charter concept has already proven successful, Stivers contends, with the Gatton Academy at Western Kentucky University and the Craft Academy at Morehead State University. Sen. Mike Wilson has proposed creating pilot public charter schools in Jefferson and Fayette Counties. Stivers says that idea has the support of black ministers in the metro Louisville.

“I feel the public education system has so let down the African-American community in Jefferson County, and we want to change those dynamics, we want to create opportunity,” Stivers says.

The Senate President also says he will push prevailing wage and right to work legislation as ways to boost the state’s economy, and tax and regulatory reforms that he says will help attract new business to the commonwealth. Finally Stivers says he hopes to see the state’s coal industry revitalized and he wants to ensure that dwindling coal severance tax dollars are properly spent at the county level.

Sponsored by:

Season 11 Episodes

Mitch McConnell on Politics

S11 E49 Length 28:04 Premiere Date 12/19/16

Speaker-Elect Jeff Hoover

S11 E48 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 12/19/16

Kentucky Harm Reduction Coalition

S11 E46 Length 28:21 Premiere Date 12/18/16

Former Congressman Barney Frank

S11 E45 Length 28:36 Premiere Date 12/11/16

Kentucky Youth Advocates

S11 E44 Length 29:02 Premiere Date 11/20/16

Ramez Naam and Seth Siegel

S11 E43 Length 27:31 Premiere Date 11/13/16

Former U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle

S11 E42 Length 27:35 Premiere Date 11/06/16

Kentucky Book Fair Preview

S11 E41 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 10/30/16

U.S. Sen Rand Paul

S11 E40 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 10/23/16

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray

S11 E39 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 10/16/16

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr

S11 E38 Length 28:00 Premiere Date 10/09/16

Nancy Jo Kemper

S11 E37 Length 27:46 Premiere Date 10/02/16

Gary Gregg; Daniel Hayes

S11 E36 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 09/25/16

Adam Edelen and Matt Jones

S11 E35 Length 27:51 Premiere Date 09/17/16

Ky. Labor Secretary Derrick Ramsey

S11 E34 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 09/11/16

Stephen Pruitt on Education Policy

S11 E32 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 08/28/16

Work Ready Skills Initiative

S11 E31 Length 27:52 Premiere Date 08/21/16

Mary Matalin and James Carville

S11 E30 Length 27:18 Premiere Date 08/14/16

BBC Anchor Katty Kay

S11 E29 Length 29:02 Premiere Date 08/07/16

Fancy Farm 2016 Preview

S11 E28 Length 28:36 Premiere Date 07/31/16

Kentucky's Open Records Law

S11 E27 Length 27:51 Premiere Date 07/24/16

Kentucky's Medicaid Waiver

S11 E26 Length 28:16 Premiere Date 07/17/16

The Future of Agribusiness

S11 E25 Length 27:32 Premiere Date 07/09/16

Sen. Mitch McConnell's Memoir

S11 E24 Length 29:46 Premiere Date 07/03/16

Oral Health Integration

S11 E23 Length 28:42 Premiere Date 06/19/16

Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak

S11 E22 Length 28:26 Premiere Date 06/12/16

Pearse Lyons and Family

S11 E21 Length 28:51 Premiere Date 06/05/16

"Dreamland" Author Sam Quinones

S11 E20 Length 29:31 Premiere Date 05/29/16

Rethinking Pain Treatment

S11 E19 Length 27:11 Premiere Date 05/22/16

Drug Czar Michael Botticelli

S11 E18 Length 29:01 Premiere Date 05/15/16

Drug Addiction and the Brain

S11 E17 Length 27:41 Premiere Date 05/08/16

Kentucky's Opioid Abuse Epidemic

S11 E16 Length 29:01 Premiere Date 05/01/16

David Adkisson and Jason Bailey

S11 E15 Length 28:16 Premiere Date 04/24/16

Ben Chandler on Baseball and Family

S11 E14 Length 27:47 Premiere Date 04/17/16

Highlights from the Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit

S11 E13 Length 29:06 Premiere Date 04/10/16

Allison Ball and Ryan Quarles

S11 E12 Length 28:16 Premiere Date 04/02/16

Author Fenton Johnson

S11 E11 Length 27:31 Premiere Date 03/27/16

Rep. Sannie Overly

S11 E9 Length 28:06 Premiere Date 02/28/16

Kentucky's Republican Presidential Caucus

S11 E8 Length 27:51 Premiere Date 02/21/16

Education Secretary Hal Heiner

S11 E7 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 02/14/16

Presidential Politics in Kentucky

S11 E6 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 02/07/16

Gov. Bevin on Budget Proposals

S11 E5 Length 27:31 Premiere Date 01/29/16

Postsecondary Education Funding

S11 E4 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 01/24/16

House Speaker Greg Stumbo

S11 E3 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 01/17/16

Mitch McConnell on 2016

S11 E2 Length 28:31 Premiere Date 01/10/16

Senate President Robert Stivers

S11 E1 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 01/03/16

See All Episodes

caret down

TV Schedules


No upcoming airdates


No recent airdates

Explore KET