New Governor’s To-Do List

Gov.-Elect Beshear, congratulations on a tremendous victory and, on a personal note, I expect to be unblocked from the governor’s official Twitter account Day 1.

Speaking of Day 1, let’s talk about setting the tone for the next four years and making good on election night promises. You need to deliver on them as fast as possible, which will be good for the state and your reelection.

Immediately change the name of the “Kentucky Capitol Education Center Honoring Gold Star Families” back to its original name, “Jane K. Beshear Capitol Education Center,” in honor of the woman who founded the Center. Let’s be honest, changing the name was a petty move by a petty man.

Also, give your mother back her spot on the Kentucky Horse Park Commission if she wants it.

You say you will move into the Governor’s Mansion. Smart. Don’t be like Gov. Matt Bevin, who worked a (shady) sweetheart deal with a mega-donor to live in a mansion in Anchorage.

OK, that’s enough fun for Day 1. Now, get to work on the real substance.

First, you need to reverse every destructive action Bevin took against Medicaid and the Medicaid expansion. Rescind that cruel and draconian Medicaid work requirement policy that Bevin has been pushing. Work with the legislature to reinforce Medicaid expansion so that no future governor can threaten the health coverage of over 400,000 Kentuckians.

Some are still worried that we as a state will not be able to afford 10% of the cost of the expansion (leaving 90% on the federal government) that will be required in 2020. Make sure the Republicans know that Medicaid expansion has been so vital to Kentucky that the state could actually save money when it’s all said and done. One report by the State Health Reform Assistance Network projected Kentucky would net $820 million in savings by fiscal year 2021 because of improved outcomes, revenue increases and offsets to other state health programs.

Second, you need to reverse Bevin’s cynical move that took way the right for former felons to vote. Your father was correct to restore their rights before he left office. Bevin was wrong to take those rights away, saying the legislature needed to act instead. Sign an executive order to restore the voting rights of over 100,000 who have completed their sentence, parole and probation.

This move is politically advantageous because it will increase the pool of voters, and Democrats almost always benefit from having more voters vote in elections. But more important — there’s no reason for these people to wait any longer.

It’s the right thing to do.

Finally, Gov. Beshear, you also need to follow through on your promise to replace the education board and its commissioner, Wayne Lewis. Bevin used his executive powers to stack the board as a way of pushing charter schools and pressing the War on Louisville. You can fix that.

The board and commissioner should be replaced with educators and administrators who are focused solely on improving public education, which means ending the prospects of charter schools in Kentucky.

And you had better make sure each teacher sees that $2,000 raise that you promised. It might be difficult to get through a Republican-controlled legislature, but remember, they can explain why they don’t think teachers deserve a raise when they run for reelection.

Here’s where you can find at least some of that money: Replace Charles Grindle, who at $370,000 a year is the highest-paid, non-university state employee and the highest paid chief information officer in the country… who also happens to be Bevin’s longtime pal and business associate.

Speaking of state money gone bad, in the interest of transparency, how about you make public the details of the state’s deal with Braidy Industries? As shareholders, Kentucky voters deserve to know who we’re in business with. You might recall how Bevin bamboozled the legislature into approving $15 million to invest in Braidy without telling lawmakers the purpose until after the vote.

Gov. Beshear, there is no doubt you were the beneficiary of an anti-Bevin vote. That’s nothing to be ashamed of… my dad, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, was the beneficiary of the same anti-Bush, anti-Republican sentiment in 2006.

Now, however, you have the opportunity to be a successful, beloved governor who Kentuckians vote for again in four years.

You just have to deliver on your promises… and don’t be like Bevin.