By Andrew McNeill
Under Gov. Matt Bevin, Kentucky has seen the enactment of innovative health care solutions, commonsense labor and occupational licensing policies that have empowered workers, expanded educational opportunities, tax policy that keeps more money in workers’ pockets, and second chances for those looking to rebuild their lives and strengthen communities.
The common theme that runs through all these policies is removing barriers to help every Kentuckian achieve their potential. At the heart of the Governor’s policy accomplishments is the belief that free people are capable of extraordinary things if they are allowed to tap into their unique talents and skills.
Opportunity begins with education. To ensure that each Kentucky family can seek out the education that best fits their children’s needs regardless of income or ZIP code, Gov. Bevin has been a strong advocate of expanding opportunities through scholarship programs and authorizing charter schools. “All we want to do is break down barriers that preclude a kid from having a shot,” he said at a recent event in Lexington. Expanding access to that opportunity opens the door to a better life for every child and a better future for every Kentuckian.
To give Kentuckians a second chance to rebuild their lives and communities, Gov. Bevin has taken critical actions to help those with a criminal record break the cycle that often results in them going right back into the system. Gov. Bevin signed an executive order that “banned the box” that identified a criminal record in job applications. He also signed historic bipartisan legislation that gives formerly incarcerated individuals a better shot at a second chance by allowing those who meet certain criteria to have their criminal records expunged, making it easier to get a job, a place to live and to restart their lives. And he signed a bill that prohibits licensing boards and state agencies from denying jobs or occupational licenses based solely on criminal convictions. Removing these barriers can make all the difference for someone trying to get back on their feet, and Gov. Bevin’s leadership will help people find their path to a better life and make our communities safer.
To ensure that quality, affordable health care is within reach for all Kentuckians, Gov. Bevin signed into law measures designed to expand access through the use of telehealth and direct primary care. He supported right-to-try legislation that made it easier for patients facing a life-threatening illness to access potentially life-saving treatment. And he is working to eliminate unnecessary mandates and regulations that are increasing costs and limiting high quality health care options to Kentuckians.
To help people find reliable and fulfilling work, Gov. Bevin looked at a series of impactful policies to utilize. When the Governor was developing his nationally recognized Red Tape Reduction, he went to state employees for their ideas first. He understood drawing from their expertise would immediately identify barriers and inefficiencies in Kentucky’s regulatory code. His question was simple: what can be done to make your job easier to help Kentuckians? Coupled with the historic adoption of right-to-work and paycheck protection in 2017, the Governor’s Red Tape Reduction has played a huge role in Kentucky’s historically low unemployment and unprecedented job creation.
If one thing is clear over the past four years, it’s that Gov. Bevin isn’t afraid to stand strong for what he believes and fight for the people of Kentucky. “If anti-establishment means cutting red tape and ignoring the hot air, I’m anti-establishment,” he said in a 2017 interview with The Weekly Standard. “But, if the establishment includes people working hard for the good of the public, I’ll work with anyone who has good ideas, Democrat or Republican.”
That trait should be considered a feature, not a bug. The people of Kentucky have a better chance of prospering when the governor is challenging the status quo than if he were siding with Frankfort’s entrenched interests. Breaking down partisan barriers to get things done is exactly what Kentuckians want from their leaders. I hear this message every day from AFP-Kentucky’s grassroots community.
Respectful and open dialogue, the competition of ideas and the democratic process is how Kentucky will meet its challenges. All these gains, and the promise of more in the future, are what voters have the opportunity to both defend and promote in November.
For all of these reasons, I’m confident Kentucky voters will sort through the distractions, keep their eye on the ball and send Gov. Bevin back to Frankfort to continue his agenda of breaking down barriers for all Kentuckians.
Andrew McNeill is senior advisor to Americans for Prosperity Action.