Governor Matt Bevin reflects on his time in office and the legacy he's left
Governor Matt Bevin, R-Kentucky, is reflecting on his time in the state's top office.
“We’ve shown Kentucky what good government looks like. We’ve shown Kentucky what quality ethical government looks like," said Bevin.
The governor sat down with WKYT's Garrett Wymer to talk about his accomplishments while in office and the challenges he faced.
Bevin said fixing Kentucky's pension systems is still the No. 1 issue facing the commonwealth. Pension reform was one area Bevin wanted to make significant changes in and move the state forward.
He told WKYT the state had taken some of those steps, but overall, the pension system still needs work.
Bevin touched on his loss in the November election and what he thinks happened.
“Why did we lose? The left - and I say that just from a political left/right standpoint - people of democrat persuasion are so much more effective at people on the right at turning out the votes, especially in densely populated areas," Bevin said. "They really are good at marshaling the troops and harvesting votes in very concentrated areas.”
The governor acknowledged his temperament and tone over the years had rubbed many people the wrong way. But Bevin insists it's because of the things he fought for: the right-to-work law, pension reform, cutting regulations, and pushing for school choice.
“There were people offended and outraged right out of the gate. To me, though, I don’t make promises - I didn’t need this job badly enough to lie to people in order to get it. I really didn’t. So I said we would fight for those things, and we did, and people were outraged and offended day one," said Bevin.
With his days left in office numbered, Bevin said he doesn't spend time looking in the rearview mirror. He says he's more concerned about the state losing some of the gains it made while he was in office.
“I would love to see this state rise to its potential like we talked about, but I’ll tell you, four more years wouldn’t do it. It takes to change the true culture of a state - whether it’s the financial culture, the educational culture, the economic development culture - to truly transform it takes a generation. It takes 15-20 years to really transform a state. We were on our way, now we’re sort of fits and starts - we’ll see," said Bevin.
Bevin said in his final days, he has spent hours sorting through requests for pardons and commutations.
“And I don’t want to leave anybody hanging,” said Bevin.
Gov. Bevin said he wishes the best for Governor-elect Andy Beshear and Kentucky as a whole.
As for his strained relationship with Lt. Governor Jenean Hampton, Bevin tells WKYT she's a good person, and he respects her but says she's chosen her own path.
"She's a good person. I love her as a friend. She's somebody who I have such respect for her life story and what she's done," Bevin said. "I chose her to run with me very intentionally because she embodies so much of what we want people to aspire to. But I think her legacy will be what her legacy is, and it may not be what she hoped it would be."
What's next for the governor? Bevin isn't ruling out running for office again at some point, but he says he doesn't have any plans to at this point. He said right now he is looking forward to being back in the private sector.