Gov. Matt Bevin was adamant in two Louisville radio interviews this week that he will call lawmakers into a special session this year to overhaul Kentucky’s tax code and aid its financially-strapped public pension systems.
The Republican governor also lashed out at the state’s media outlets, again accusing them of ignoring important issues, such as drug abuse, the pension crisis and government corruption.
“They really are pathetic,” Bevin said of the media during an interview Tuesday afternoon on WHAS-AM with host Terry Meiners.
Bevin also gave an interview Wednesday morning to the radio station’s Leland Conway, which generally covered the same subjects.
Concerning a special legislative session, Bevin promised to call one in 2017 but would not say in which month. Only the governor can call a special session and set its agenda.
The Bevin administration is seeking legal advice to help craft a tax plan, but a recent solicitation letter said a final report from that work is not due until Sept. 30.
On the radio, he urged Kentuckians to “start reaching out to your legislator” to tell them that more state revenue is needed to rescue the public pension systems.
Some lawmakers have said a special session that increases revenue from taxes will be difficult. All 100 House seats and half of the Senate’s 38 seats are up for election next year.
Bevin said he will lay out several different tax scenarios to legislators, noting that there can not be enough austerity in state government to raise the needed revenue.
“We truly have to create more revenue,” Bevin said, adding that the best way to do that is by encouraging economic growth that puts more Kentuckians to work.
Both radio hosts asked Bevin about a recent report in The Courier-Journal about the governor’s apparent new residence in Anchorage in Jefferson County.
Bevin told Conway that the media are more interested in where he lives and the recent installation of a miniature doll of first lady Glenna Bevin in a Capitol exhibit than stories about drug problems, unemployment and a failing pension system.
“It truly is just insane in some measure in terms of the degree of idiocy that passes for media these days,” Bevin said.
“I just wish we had serious reporters. How many stories have been written about my wife’s doll, I mean literally,” he said. “On the one hand, bully for them, but on the other hand, they have all become tabloid-like. It’s a shame. We’ve lost real objective reporting. There’s very, very little of it left.”
The day before, he told Meiners the media should “care about things like the drug addiction problem, and the pension crisis, and the amazing amount of bureaucracy and the corruption that is rampant and the fact that the FBI is back again investigating the prior administration’s road contracts. These things should concern the media but instead they literally care about things that do not matter.”
The Herald-Leader has written hundreds of stories over several decades about drug abuse, the pension crisis and government corruption. Last week, it was the first to report that the FBI was investigating state contracts involving state road work and that the agency had raided a Lexington asphalt company seeking data on a possible conspiracy to rig asphalt paving bids. Two weeks ago, the newspaper reported that the rate of premature deaths had gotten worse in 44 counties in recent years, in part because of increasing drug overdoses. In February, the newspaper published a front page story with the headline “Troubled Kentucky pension system might need billions more than assumed.”