FRANKFORT- As hundreds of teachers pack the capitol the three Democratic gubernatorial candidates are showing their support for public education.
Eight school districts across Kentucky were closed as hundreds of teachers staged a "sick out" to protest House Bill 525 which makes changes to the Teachers Retirement Systems board of trustees.
“They are here to make sure they see it from day one and that their voices are heard and that their voices are not left on the back row and out of the committee room and out of the House chamber," said Rocky Adkins. "They are here today really to get with the bill from the very start and make sure that members of this committee, members of the legislature know where they stand on this piece of legislation.”
Each candidate speaking out against the bill.
“Today’s bill is a retribution for the teachers for protesting what happened last year," said Adam Edelen. "I think it’s retribution, and I just don’t think it’s a good idea to take a well run retirement system, which is what we have with the Teachers Retirement System, and mix it in with others that have not been well run.”
“It’s also a sneak attack," said Andy Beshear. "Instead of engaging in a open process, they just announced this bill was being heard yesterday in attempt to prevent these teachers from being here but look at them. They are here. They are here in strength and they are going to make their voices heard.”
"I think teachers have every right to be here today. They want a voice in this process," said Adkins. "Especially when it comes to the teacher retirement and making sure their voice is heard. And they have a seat at the table. This bill takes that seat away from table and takes their voice away from the table so this is a bad bill.”
The candidates said they weren't there for politics.
"It’s about our educators. These folks work hard, they are not paid enough money, and right now they have a governor who calls them names and attacks them day in and day out," said Beshear. "The General Assembly ought to show up everyday to support our teachers, to figure out what extra help they need, not cut them out the of the process. “
“I think this is less about political expediency and more about what’s right and wrong. And certainly making sure we keep our pension promise to our teachers is the right thing to do," said Edelen. "There's not a teacher here today who wouldn’t prefer to be in their classroom in their local community. But when we are talking about doing something as foolish as lumping in the well run TRS system, lumping it in with the other systems that have not been as well run. That’s a big concern. Not just for school teachers but for everyone that cares about what goes on in the classroom.”
But nonetheless gained some brownie points from the coveted teacher voters.