Lt. Gov. Coleman finishes education tour in BG

Published 4:07 pm Wednesday, October 11, 2023

By Michael J. Collins, Bowling Green Daily News

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman stopped in Bowling Green for the last leg of her Protect Our Public Schools tour.

Coleman was joined on Tuesday by former Rep. Patti Minter at Cherry Hall to tout Gov. Andy Beshear’s 5-part “Education First” plan to a packed classroom of local educators and supporters.

Beshear’s plan includes an 11% raise for all public school faculty and staff, universal pre-K, increased funding for school technology and resources, expanded mental health resources and fully funded student transportation.

“We have 27 days left in this election to send a message loud and clear that when you attack public education in the commonwealth of Kentucky, you will not win,” Coleman said. “We said it in 2019, I am happy to say it even louder in 2023, to make sure that folks know that this commonwealth has our school’s backs, our teacher’s backs and we want to make sure that we protect our public schools.”

Coleman said there’s a “stark difference” between Beshear’s and his challenger Daniel Cameron’s education platforms.

“(On one side) you’ve got the public education first administration, with a governor and lieutenant governor who have done the work and stood shoulder to shoulder with our education communities,” Coleman told the Daily News. “And on the other, you have a team that wants to take public school funding and put it in unaccountable private sources.”

Cameron has indicated he would support school choice and private school vouchers though they are not included in his education platform.

Coleman said her first priority is making sure public school employees receive raises across the board.

“State employees got it. Law enforcement got it. Social workers got it. The only group that was taken out of those raise proposals was public educators,” Coleman said.

Coleman said the plan is made possible by Kentucky’s largest rainy day fund in state history, pushing back against claims that “we don’t have the funding.” She added that Kentucky’s starting teacher pay ranks 44th in the nation at $40,000.

State Budget Director John Hicks has said the plan is feasible so long as the legislature agrees to include it in the upcoming biennial budget.

Coleman harkened back to 2019 when the Supreme Court ruled former Gov. Matt Bevin’s attempts to change Kentucky’s pension program unconstitutional. The bill cut retired teachers’ cost of living adjustments and shifted some workers into lesser retirement plans.

Beshear argued then that the changes, which were added on to an 11-page sewer bill, violated state workers’ contract rights. Coleman said that threat would be renewed under a Cameron administration.

“Daniel Cameron chose Robbie Mills as his running mate,” Coleman said. “Robbie Mills not only voted for the sewer bill, he is an enthusiastic supporter. He was one of the leaders in trying to get that bill passed. That’s not right.”