Last Wednesday, Transylvania University hosted the first Democratic gubernatorial debate of the ongoing Kentucky governor’s race. The three candidates, Rocky Adkins, Andy Beshear, and Adam Edelen answered questions about their policies and election platforms.
The forum offered the candidates a chance to defend themselves against their opponents and explain why they deserve the spot as governor. While they all had opposing beliefs on a few issues, a common goal was to get the current governor, Matt Bevin, a Republican, out of office.
The three men spoke on issues such as teacher pensions, tax reform, medical marijuana, abortion, and coal.
The questions were posed in a way that would allow each man to describe his own platform. This often led to minor insults between the politicians, mainly from Edelen trying to knock down Beshear. These two men had a similar platform on most issues with the main outlier of the group being representative Rocky Adkins. Adkins tended to take a more conservative approach with his answers on topics such as the coal industry.
An important topic of discussion among the candidates was the notion of free college tuition to public schools. As a private college, Transylvania would not be directly affected by this change. However, it would be a major development to the college process in general.
Attorney General Andy Beshear stated that he thinks that policy should first focus on the cuts being made to K-12 programs. With Jacqueline Coleman, a teacher, as his running mate, Beshear promises to make the changes necessary for a much better Kentucky education.
“Right now, we’ve seen cuts to our K-12 programs, our teachers are teaching out of books held together by duct tape and we don’t have the necessary technology in our classrooms. I think we have to invest in our people as much as possible. And I think when we look at those scholarships, we gotta start with our underserved communities where our government has actually kept people down instead of picking them up,” said Beshear.
Auditor Adam Edelen said that community and technical colleges should functions with last dollar scholarships rather than being completely free. Last dollar scholarships are meant to fill in the gap between what you can pay out of pocket and the financial aid a person is given. Edelen thinks that the state should spend a long time thinking critically on how to gain more money for scholarships, such as through higher taxes on cigarettes and vaping products.
“It’s great to talk about all the things that we want to do, and the lawsuits we file, but if you want to create real action, you have to have money to make this work” said Edelen.
Representative Rocky Adkins said that he wants to push directly for free community and technical colleges in order to keep up with the seventeen other states who have already implemented this. He wants to better community and technical colleges to make a stronger and better-educated workforce for Kentucky.
“While we fight for the jobs of today, but we prepare Kentucky for the jobs of tomorrow, public education is gonna be the key. And making sure that we have a highly skilled, a highly trained workforce, we can do this with community and technical college. We can do this with the Pell Grant and the KEES money to send kids to 4-year institutions as well,” says Adkins.
In relation to private colleges some believe that if there was a free public college option, enrollment at private colleges and universities would drop.