FRANKFORT, Ky. - Andy Beshear has revealed his plan to address public education in Kentucky if he is elected governor.
Surrounded by teachers at the Kentucky Education Association, Beshear presented his “Stop the Bullying, Raise the Pay plan.”
The plan among several things includes an across the board $2,000 pay increase for all teachers in Kentucky.
Beshear says other Republican-controlled states have done similar things.
“Similar policies have been passed in a bipartisan way in Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma in the past year alone,” Beshear said. “While Matt Bevin has attacked our teachers, Republican legislators in those three states have passed teacher raises.”
But that plan isn’t cheap. It comes with an estimated $84 million price tag. Beshear says he’ll pay for the raises by making teachers a priority in the budget.
“A budget is a values document and what you value most you ensure that you fund, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do in our first budget,” Beshear told reporters. “I can tell you one easy thing we are going to undo to start providing the money—is we are going to undo the $215,000 raise this governor gave to one of his best friends.”
Beshear is referring to Chief Information Officer Charles Grindle who makes $375,000 a year. Beshear also referenced the $215,000 salary of members of the Economic Development Cabinet. But even with decreasing those salaries, the state still would need to come up with about $83 million to pay for it, Beshear says it’s too important not to find the money.
“We can’t afford to not make this investment,” he said, “It’s one where three states traditionally viewed as Republican understood that if they wanted to have a public education system that would allow them to compete not just nationally but globally they had to make this investment.”
The $2,000 pay increase was only one part of the four-part plan. The plan would also increase the base pay for teachers now lower than $40,000 by 2022. The second part would forgive student loans for teachers who have taught in the public education system for a certain amount of time. Third, the administration would provide incentives for teachers to attend continuing education programs. Finally, Beshear says he will replace the Kentucky Board of Education and Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis.
“I’m going to ensure we have a brand new Board of Education, that cares about our students and our teachers more than for-profit charter school companies,” Beshear said. “You can bet we are going to have a new commissioner that would never help a Labor Cabinet secretary investigate and try and fine teachers $1,000 apiece.”
The Bevin campaign is responding to Beshear’s plan saying it’s nothing more than another unfunded campaign promise.
“Gov. Bevin has made education a top priority of his administration. He is the first Governor to fully fund teacher’s pensions after years of underfunding by Gov. Steve Beshear and past administrations,” Campaign Manager Davis Paine said in a statement. “Under Gov. Bevin’s leadership, SEEK per-pupil spending is at record levels, and 100 percent of lottery funds are going toward education. Andy Beshear is just trying to distract from his support of Hillary Clinton and the liberal agenda that will take our state backward.”