Facing a groundswell of opposition from public workers for his proposed pension changes, Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin compared them to drowning victims on Tuesday in that “you just need to knock them out and drag them to shore.”
Bevin’s comments came during a live interview with Brian Thomas on WKRC in Cincinnati. He said the state must make changes to the pension system or it will collapse, risking the retirements of hundreds of thousands of people and their loved ones.
“I do not want to see that happen to retired state workers. And yet I am being fought in some instances by the very people we are trying to save,” Bevin said. “It’s like saving a drowning victim, Brian. They are fighting you, fighting you, pulling you under. You just need to knock them out and drag them to shore. It’s for their own good.”
It’s the latest example of Bevin criticizing state workers for criticizing him, often using violent language. Earlier this year, thousands of teachers across the state marched at the state Capitol to protest the changes to the retirement system, causing more than 30 school districts to close. Bevin had said he guaranteed the closure caused a child to be sexually assaulted because they had to be left alone while their single parent went to work. Bevin later apologized for those comments.
Bevin’s term ends next year. He has not said if he will run for reelection.
Attorney General Andy Beshear, a Democrat, says he is running for governor. He has built his campaign around support for public workers, especially public school teachers. His running mate, Jacqueline Coleman, is an assistant principal at Nelson County High School.
“Gov. Bevin’s comments are offensive,” Beshear posted on his campaign Twitter account.” Our public servants aren’t drowning victims, they are hardworking men and women who help our families every day. It’s time to restore decency in Frankfort.”