Hazard audience members turn governor's economic news conference into education debate

Photo: WYMT

HAZARD, Ky. (WDKY) - Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin found himself in an impromptu debate while speaking in downtown Hazard Thursday.

Bevin was holding a news conference to discuss the new Kentucky Opportunity Zone in Hazard, which is part of an initiative to improve economic development in the area. The discussion quickly turned into a debate over the pension system, with a little help from the audience.

While answering questions from the crowd, the governor was confronted by a man in the audience over some of the more controversial things he has said in recent weeks about teachers, including his guarantee a child was sexually assaulted because schools canceled for a teacher rally Friday.

"Any other questions about economic development?" Bevin asked before a man attacked Bevin's policies on teacher compensation and charter schools.

Bevin interrupted to ask if the individual had a question, which led to the individual to ask how Bevin could "justify" his comments about the Friday rally. Bevin replied touting his record on pension funding and expressing his desire to properly fund public schools and workforce education. He also reiterated his apology he made days after the comments.

"I truly am sorry to have offended whether you or others as well based on the words I have said and how they have been understood," Bevin said, "The intent I know was not to insult people. As somebody who has a lot of family who are teachers and have been teachers, I can personally apologize you to and it doesn't bother me. It's the right thing to do."

Another man followed up by accusing him of not apologizing properly, and bringing up comments said on a radio show where the governor said some opponents of a pension reform bill were exhibiting a "thug mentality" because they called the business of the bill sponsor and "harass his employees."

Bevin replied stating he did not call teachers thugs, and he would have apologized if he did make those comments.

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