Time for Bevin to learn how to gov­ern bet­ter

Lexington Herald-Leader (Sunday) - - Local -

Let’s as­sume that Gov. Matt Bevin’s hastily called and doomed spe­cial ses­sion wasn’t about pique over the Supreme Court re­jec­tion over how a pen­sion law was passed. Let’s ig­nore any mo­ti­va­tion to boost his re­elec­tion chances.

We can give the for­mer hedge-fund man­ager credit for be­ing com­mit­ted to solv­ing the long­stand­ing pen­sion un­der­fund­ing prob­lem that has helped tank the state’s credit rat­ing.

Yet, Bevin’s han­dling of this sit­u­a­tion re­in­forces just how lit­tle he has mas­tered the soft skills of gov­ern­ing dur­ing his three years in of­fice.

It’s time for vot­ers to de­mand that he do his job bet­ter. And when the leg­isla­tive ses­sion opens next month, he needs to show it. He is no longer a po­lit­i­cal new­comer or out­sider; he is the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Ken­tucky.

Bevin still acts as if he thinks a gover­nor can just an­nounce some­thing and ev­ery­one falls in line. He does not ef­fec­tively com­mu­ni­cate or ne­go­ti­ate with law­mak­ers and in­ter­est groups to carry out an agenda.

Worse, he is dis­re­spect­ful, as was ev­i­dent by all his broad­sides against teach­ers over the past year. Call­ing a spe­cial ses­sion with lit­tle no­tice, just days be­fore Christ­mas and just weeks be­fore the leg­is­la­ture starts was not go­ing to win friends, even among Repub­li­can law­mak­ers.

The ses­sion it­self was a dis­or­ga­nized mess. Bevin pre­sented two dif­fer­ent bills with changes from the pen­sion re­form bill that was passed ear­lier this year. That opened the door to other leg­is­la­tion, which meant law­mak­ers didn’t know what they were sup­posed to be con­sid­er­ing. Although the Supreme Court did not rule on the specifics of the con­tentious pen­sion re­form, it’s un­der­stand­able that law­mak­ers would want to take some time to re­assess. And they did not want an­other court chal­lenge over lack of trans­parency.

But the most dis­ap­point­ing thing about Bevin’s ten­ure has been that he has not come up with ways to raise money, be­yond em­brac­ing con­ser­va­tive or­tho­doxy to pass laws fa­vor­able to busi­nesses.

De­spite his vow to get rid of bud­getary sa­cred cows, his bud­gets have not ad­dress the myr­iad of tax exemptions that have grown to ex­ceed state rev­enue by $2 bil­lion a year.

In­stead, his pro­pos­als are of­ten puni­tive: tak­ing away ben­e­fits from pen­sion­ers, putting up ob­sta­cles for poor peo­ple need­ing health care. There could be a case to make for such ac­tions, but not when he re­fuses to ex­pand the sales tax to the fast-grow­ing ser­vice sec­tor.

Bevin of­ten calls on Ken­tuck­ians and law­mak­ers to “chart a bold course of ac­tion” to solve state prob­lems.

He should do the same by learn­ing con­struc­tive ways to use his of­fice to get things done.

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