With less than a week until the election for governor of Kentucky, Republican David Williams has released a series of pledges regarding the management of state government, which the GOP nominee says put him in contrast to Democratic incumbent Steve Beshear. Among the assurances is a promise that Williams will not furlough state workers, which was a cost-cutting measure that the governor ordered despite objections from House Democrats and vocal complaints from public employees.
“I am dismayed at the way Steve Beshear has treated state employees and at the way he has managed state government,” Williams said in a news release. “In my administration, we will take the politics out of state government so workers can serve the Commonwealth free from the stress and anxiety that surely comes with the political pressures detailed by media outlets inside Gov. Beshear’s administration.”
Beshear has argued the furloughs were necessary to avoid cuts to other important state services, and avoid employee layoffs.
The Williams management pledges include the follow:
No Furloughs of State Workers” “Everyone in Frankfort knows the furloughs had minimal impact on our state budget situation, especially when you consider that Governor Beshear was simultaneously fighting to protect more than 80 highly paid political appointees at the same time he was furloughing state workers. I believe he did it for political reasons, and in fact his campaign advertising has bragged about furloughing state workers. The furloughs hurt the lowest paid state workers the most and I pledge to end this practice if elected governor. The legislature asked Gov. Beshear to find greater efficiencies in state government, to cut personal service contracts, and to cut non-merit positions before engaging in any furloughs. He refused and punished state workers anyway. As Senate President, I insisted on budget language to stop the furloughs; Gov. Beshear vetoed this language. I have a record of trying to protect state workers which stands in stark contrast to how you have been treated by Gov. Beshear.”
Reforming Public Pensions and Meeting Our Obligations: “Gov. Beshear’s campaign has tried to scare people into believing that my pension reform plan will change or cut pensions for current or retired state workers. That is completely untrue. I am committed to meeting pension obligations for current and retired state employees, but we must reform the system for future hires. My belief is that Kentucky has a contract with current and retired state workers than cannot be violated. I pledge to reform the system for future state workers to restore solvency and ensure that the pensions for all current and retired state workers can be honored. If we do not reform the pension system for future hires the entire plan will go bankrupt putting all state worker pensions at risk. Gov. Beshear will not commit to pension reform and I believe the next governor must take some responsible steps to ensure that Kentucky does not go bankrupt and that current and retired state workers get the pensions they’ve earned.”
(Note: Sen. Williams pension reform plan will not apply to teachers because they do not participate in the Social Security system.)
Eliminating Politics From the State Government Workplace” “Media reports tell us that many state government employees may have been solicited for campaign contributions by Gov. Beshear’s political appointees. State workers have my word that no political appointee in my administration will ever ask them for a campaign contribution, especially using state government equipment and e-mail addresses. State workers should also be treated fairly when it comes to career advancement, moving forward based on their hard work and job performance. There should be no fear among state employees of political retribution.”