Bevin wins gubernatorial race

By Cheyenne Abrams

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In what experts said was a lose-lose election for students, Republican businessman Matt Bevin and his pro-business campaign beat Democrat Jack Conway for governor.

Despite polls putting Conway in the lead, Democratic voters did not show up to support their candidate.

Bevin and his running mate Jenean Hampton touted throughout the campaign their ability to bring businesses to the state, and also campaigned against the Affordable Care Act and same-sex marriage.

Hampton said she and Bevin will bring more well-paying jobs to Kentucky by making the state more friendly for expanding businesses. Hampton said working to fix the tax code and making it easier to start business will allow her and Bevin to improve employment, among other things, in Kentucky.

Students likely did not make a big impact in the election despite the candidates’ drastically different stances on financial support for higher education and tuition increases.

Kentucky is struggling to pay for a crumbling pension system, and Kentucky political experts said education would be first on the chopping block to keep the state from falling into bankruptcy.

Bevin never promised to stop tuition increases or to increase funding for state universities like UK, and said universities must do a better job managing money.

“You could expect the situation for college students is going to get much, much worse very quickly,” said Al Cross, an associate journalism professor at UK and the former chief political reporter for the Louisville Courier-Journal. “Matt Bevin … is more skeptical of funding higher education.”

Political science professor Donald Gross said Bevin would have to increase taxes to avoid cutting higher education funding, but said neither Bevin nor Conway would increase taxes.

Both Gross and Cross said the student vote would not have an impact on the election despite the candidates having a big impact on students and their wallets.

Live Tweet from Bevin’s Headquarters:

Associate professor of political science Stephen Voss said students should expect higher tuition post-election. Pensions will suck up funds that would otherwise go to universities, high schools and elementary schools.

“Tuition for college students is going to get much, much worse,” Voss said.

Gross said candidates will continue to ignore the pleas of students until young people turn out at the polls. Politicians are afraid of older people who could vote them out of office, not of students who watch political races from a distance.

“As long as they have no fear of students and their parents who are paying big tuition bills, they’re not going to respond, especially compared to the fear of raising taxes,” Gross said.

What students want from a new governor:

Bevin also hopes to scale back Medicaid, a Federal-State health insurance program for low-income people, saying that a majority of Kentuckians cannot afford it. This would make Kentucky the first state to reverse the expansion of Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act.

Cross said it is not clear whether or not Bevin will actually follow through with this plan. Bevin’s commitment to cutting back Medicaid has not been clear, and it is also not clear what the effect of this would be.

According to the 2009-2013 U.S. Census, 18.8 percent of Kentuckians live below the poverty line.