Beshear touts economic growth, regrets not getting expanded gaming

Beshear touts economic growth, regrets not getting expanded gaming

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - His eight-year run as Kentucky's governor is coming to an end.

On Tuesday, outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear looked back on his eight years leading the Commonwealth. Beshear says he's left Gov.-elect Matt Bevin and his administration in good shape. Among the key accomplishments, he noted working with former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to see the Ohio River Bridges Project through and touted Kynect to offer Kentuckians health care and the expansion of medicare.

He also touted helping foster the Bourbon boom and navigating the state through recession troubled waters. Beshear said the day after he was elected he was welcomed by a recession and a budget director who informed him he would have to cut $340 million out of the budget.  Beshear says growth in the economy since then, along with tough cuts in state spending he had to make, mean Kentucky is better off.

"This incoming administration is going to be in the best position to write a budget," he told reporters on Tuesday. "I've had to cut the budget every year and this year they're going to have a growing economy. I just deposited $82 million into the rainy day fund and our revenues every month continue to grow."

Beshear was also hit with being in charge of the devastating ice storm in 2009, when 110 out of 120 counties went into an immediate state of emergency.

As for being worried about Bevin dismantling Kynect? Beshear is hopeful Bevin will take a hard look at all the facts and the number of people who now have health care.

Beshear says his top two regrets would be having no meaningful progress in tax reform and not getting expanded gaming passed because he couldn't get everyone onboard.

"The racetracks were divided," he said, "some are for it only if there's a free standing casino or two and some of your other horse people like the breeders and the owners. Some are for it and others are against it, it was like herding a bunch of cats."

Reporters asked the governor about the Kim Davis same-sex marriage controversy and if it impacted the election. Beshear answered that he believes negative feelings about President Obama and low voter turnout had more to do with the outcome, as well as voters who were looking for an outsider. Beshear says appealing the decision and getting the Supreme Court involved was the right thing to do.

"I think about if I hadn't appealed that decision," he said, "we would have 80 or 90 Kim Davis's in this state because we wouldn't have had the Supreme Court decision telling us what the law is."

Beshear also discussed other governors blocking Syrian refugees, saying he doesn't blame their actions because they are thinking about safety, but he believes the current vetting process is a good one. He says the refugees are victims and mostly families and the only thing they did wrong was find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Beshear will make one of his last public appearances as governor on Dec. 5 as he walks across the downtown bridge. Beshear says he has a suggestion for the name of the bridge -- and he hinted he will likely share it during the walk.

The governor also praised Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear for her tireless efforts for breast cancer education and research.

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