Legislators blast Bevin over comments about teachers

93rd Dist. state Rep. Chris Harris, a Democrat who represents Martin County and part of Pike County, stands with Paul Goodman, a retired educator, at the end of the press conference that took place at the Pike County Public Library on Friday.

Two Pike County legislators held a press conference at the Pike County Public Library on Friday, speaking out against Gov. Matt Bevin’s verbal attacks on state educators and in support of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear.

94th Dist. state Rep. Angie    Hatton, a Democrat who represents Letcher County and part of Pike County, and 93rd Dist. state Rep. Chris Harris, a Democrat who represents Martin County and part of Pike County, led the press conference, saying it was the second stop in their “We won’t be bullied by Gov. Matt Bevin” tour.

In his opening remarks, Harris said that he and Hatton were joined by current educators, retired educators and other workers to “stand up to Gov. Matt Bevin and his record of bullying educators and disrespecting working people in Kentucky.”

“For the last four years, we’ve had a governor who’s knocked down our teachers in the public school system, especially right here in Eastern Kentucky,” Harris said. “Our message, with less than a month to go before Election Day, is clear: Gov. Bevin, we are holding you accountable for what has happened over the last four years, for assaulting and bullying the people of Kentucky.”

Bevin has received criticism for his verbal attacks against teachers in Kentucky over the past two years. Bevin has denied that the verbal attacks are examples of “bullying” against teachers.

During the press conference, Harris said that Bevin has “bullied” teachers across the state with these verbal attacks and with his “attempts to cut teachers’ pensions.”

Hatton spoke after Harris, saying that the people in Kentucky will not be “bullied” by Bevin. Hatton sharply criticized Bevin’s record on cutting higher education funding, his verbal attacks on teachers and his record of cutting rights and benefits for workers across the state.

“Because he wants to cut workers’ rights, and cut workers’ compensation benefits, and cut the safety of our workers, and destroy prevailing wage, and create ‘right to work for less’ laws, he’s attracting the wrong kind of attention to this state, and we’ve had enough,” Hatton said. “We won’t be bullied by him, and that’s why we’ve all come here today.”

At least a dozen educators, current and retired, visited the press conference to show their support for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear, several from Johnson County Schools and Letcher County Schools, which were two schools districts on fall break this week. Other workers’ rights and labor union representatives also joined the teachers in support of Beshear at the press conference. Beshear did not attend the press conference, but representatives from his campaign helped organize the press conference with Hatton and Harris.

Hatton said the press conference was to help raise awareness for “ordinary people” in Eastern Kentucky to know that they “have a voice.”

“I feel like there is an ongoing movement of folks who feel like all of the people here are expensive ads that are paid for with out-of-state money,” Hatton said. “We just want people to know that ordinary people have a voice and that they have a lot to say, and if it takes calling a press conference to get people to listen to that, then that’s what we’ll do.”

Bevin is the Republican gubernatorial candidate running against Beshear in the upcoming general election, which will take place on Nov. 5, 2019.

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