Kentucky Governor’s Race

Editor’s Note: The Kernel Editorial Board recently sat down with both gubernatorial candidates during separate interview sessions regarding issues that are relevant to UK and its students. The following are the questions and answers from these

interviews. The responses are paraphrased and are not direct quotes from the candidates.

What is your opinion on UK’s Top 20

Business Plan, and do you plan to push the General Assembly to fully fund it? Why or why not?


Beshear said he is very excited about the Top 20 Business Plan and will push for its full funding. The current administration has failed to fund the Bucks for Brains program and the Top 20 Business Plan, which has accounted for increasing tuition. Tuition is too high now and it is not the universities’ faults. Fully funding state universities is required to keep tuition down and to move them forward.


State funding for higher education has increased about 20 percent during the Fletcher administration, and UK has received a large share of that. UK’s Top 20 Business Plan rightly recognizes that there aren’t enough jobs for college graduates in this state.

For the past few years, the General Assembly has declined to pass a bill that would give UK and other state universities more control over their bond issuances. What do you plan to do about bonding authority?


Beshear said he would push for legislation to give universities bonding authority. It is time to allow state universities to pay for themselves, he said. The lack of bonding authority hampers universities from moving forward with projects. A lack of bonding authority on universities’ part increases the price of construction projects because every year, costs for material and labor goes up.


State universities do not need the authority to issue their own bonds. The universities are part of still part of the state government, so their debt still falls to the state even if they issue their own bonds. Moreover, letting the universities issue bonds themselves would affect the state’s bond rating; the state and the schools will save money overall if the state continues to be the primary bond issuer.

The Fletcher administration has been supportive of capital projects; such projects have increased by 130 percent during Fletcher’s term. Instead of outsourcing bonding authority to the universities, state government should continue its working relationship with the schools to ensure that the projects they need receive funding.

What is your stance on domestic partner benefits for employees of state universities? Would they benefit students and state residents?


Universities should be free to design their own benefit programs for their administrators, faculty and staff.


Domestic partner benefits will increase health-care costs by expanding the risk pool. People who may not otherwise be able to afford insurance because of high-risk diseases could obtain it — and thus increase costs — by signing onto a domestic partner plan. The University of Louisville took a step in the right direction of fairness by expanding its benefits package to include more than just domestic partners. But the real solution is to make health care more available for everyone.

What do you plan to do to improve

campus safety in Kentucky?


Campus safety is becoming more of an issue all the time, Beshear said. Partnering university safety efforts with other law enforcement agencies is key to improve campus safety.


Eastern Kentucky University’s expertise in training police could provide a valuable resource center for university police departments. Also, the shooting at an Ohio high school Oct. 10 shows that it is important to ensure that school buildings are mapped, and that officials should plan appropriate means of communication and ways to react to a threat. Shootings aren’t the only campus-safety problems, however — university police need to focus on preventing fires and sexual abuse as well.

How would legalized gambling affect



Expanded gaming for Kentucky is a means to an end. It will bring in $500 million a year in tax revenue. This would enable the state to fund universities and scholarships more fully. It will benefit Kentucky college students directly. It is time the people get a right to vote on whether they want to bring expanded gaming to the state or not.


Casinos would cause more pressure and more problems for college students, who are economically vulnerable and stand to lose even more money from casino gambling. The presence of casinos would bring a rise in crime rates, pawnshops, payday lenders, suicide rates and other undesirable factors in the nearby areas.

Moreover, casinos would take an estimated $55 million away from Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarships because revenues for the lottery, which funds KEES, would go down. The decline in lottery revenue would also force a reduction in funds for services and departments such as volunteer firefighters.

How do you plan to keep Kentucky

college graduates in the state?


The Kentucky First Scholarships program will pay off one year of student loans for every year that student works in the state after he or she graduates. This is one way the state can fight the “brain drain” Creating more jobs that will stimulate the tax base is key as well. The state should be trying to graduate more Kentucky children and it also has to create the kind of jobs that need these kinds of graduates.


Kentucky should diversify its economy by drawing more high-tech jobs in addition to the agricultural, mining and manufacturing positions that already exist. Unless Kentucky starts bringing these kinds of jobs into the state, college graduates will leave here, meaning Kentucky will effectively be subsidizing other states.

Part of the way to bring high-tech jobs here is to start making commercial opportunities from the research that’s already going on. Incentives for companies that convert coal into liquid fuel would be another way to bring high-tech energy jobs into the state. In addition, making cities more livable would help attract and retain college graduates.

What are you going to do to keep college affordable?


The Kentucky First Scholarships program would not only keep graduates in the state but make higher education more affordable. In this loan forgiveness program, the state would pay back one year of student loans for each year that student works in the state after graduation. Expanded gaming would also bring in $500 million more tax revenue for Kentucky. Those additional funds will make college more affordable by allowing the state to more fully fund universities and scholarship programs.


A “freeze” on tuition increases should be in place until the implementation of the Kentucky Covenant program, which would work with middle-school students and guarantee tuition assistance for students who prepare for college and get good grades.

There should also be a loan-forgiveness program for college graduates going into professions where talent is needed, such as teachers. Finally, universities should find ways to spend money more efficiently in order to cut costs.

Why should a student vote for Steve Beshear over Ernie Fletcher?


There is no question that Kentucky has experienced four years of failed leadership. It is time to look forward and move the state forward. Rank partisanship is one of the things Kentucky has gone through. State government needs to get past political parties fighting political parties.

The state will have more funding with expanded gaming and people should have the right to vote on if they favor expanded gaming or not. A comprehensive efficiency study on state government’s spending and procedures will also free up more money. Beshear said his job plans would stimulate the tax base and the Kentucky First Scholarships would keep graduates in the state to fill those jobs.


The Fletcher administration has built substantially more projects at state universities than the previous administration (that of Democrat Paul Patton) did.

The state needs to work on preparing incoming students for college. Right now, upper-level and Advanced Placement students are doing well, but others aren’t — Kentucky should work to prepare incoming college students more. And universities need to be involved in economic development in communities, giving students more real-world experience before they graduate.

Beshear wants to grow government and increase taxes, which should not happen. Moreover, the thought that casinos are the future of Kentucky sends the wrong message to students.