Teachers react after Gov. Bevin calls KEA 'a problem'

Published: Apr. 9, 2018 at 7:24 PM EDT
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The Kentucky Education Association says they're bothered by statements Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin made Monday when he announced that he was vetoing the state budget bill and tax reform bill.

During a press conference, Bevin said that the KEA had been a problem during the legislative session and not part of the solution to balancing the budget and resolving pension reform.

Teachers say while the veto didn't come as a surprise, the statement was bothersome.

"It basically tells me that he's not even aware about what KEA does or what we're about," said Boyd County Education Association President Missy Conley. "They're not the problem, they're not even part of the problem. We have tried to be the solution."

The KEA released a statement Monday that said they were "profoundly disappointed" by the announcement and that it is an example of "blatant disrespect for Kentucky's public employees."

"We offered many times, begged, to be a part of the discussion, for them to hear our side of it," Conley said. "For him to say that we're a part of this problem is absolutely not true. He created this, not us."

"We are disappointed, as well, by the governor's reference to KEA as 'the problem,' " said KEA President Stephanie Winkler. "KEA is 45,000 women and men who serve in every community in Kentucky, supporting and training our children for the jobs they will do when they take their places in the adult world. KEA members live, work and pay taxes in every community in this state. If the governor wants to work with 'job creators and taxpayers' why does he insist on insulting so many people who do both?"

Teachers have packed the Capitol several times during the last few weeks to voice their opposition and concerns over pension reform and proposed budget cuts to public education.

But the comments are just encouragement to teachers to continue their fight.

"I think our rally last week showed him that we are united and he's not just taking on a few of us, it's not just KEA, it's our entire profession," Conley said.

Lawmakers are expected back in Frankfort on Friday. That's when they will decide on whether to override Bevin's veto. Teachers are also planning their next move.

"We're actually going to meet tomorrow or the next day to get a plan as to what we're going to do locally and then on a state level," Conley said. "I know we're definitely not going to sit back and just let things happen. We're going to be very active. More active then we've been before."

Bevin would not comment Friday on what he plans to do in regards with the pension overhaul bill.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and for the latest on this developing story.