Governor Bevin attributes right-to-work law for investment boom

               Governor Matt Bevin is touting the success of the state’s new right-to-work law, a Kentucky League of Cities supported bill that passed during the 2017 legislature. The governor spoke to members of the media and public Friday afternoon, on the front steps of the state capitol. The governor said pro-business laws the legislature passed this year have already led to $5.8 billion in investment in the state. Governor Bevin says that’s well ahead of 2015, the state’s most successful year for new investments when business investments hit $5.1 billion. As the governor pointed out, the state has already topped that and it is only May. He pointed to investments from Braidy Industries, Toyota and Amazon as just three examples of large projects announced so far this year.        

               The governor was joined by Cabinet for Economic Development Secretary Terry Gill and Senate President Robert Stivers. All three touted the right-to-work law and questioned a lawsuit filed Thursday by the Kentucky State AFL-CIO and Teamsters Local 89. The lawsuit asks a judge to block enforcement of HB 1, the Right-to-Work law, which prohibits employees from being forced to join or pay dues to a union. At Friday’s news conference Senate President Stivers questioned why any group would want to stop legislation that has brought so much economic growth to the state, including hundreds of high paying jobs to Greenup County. “Be careful about filing lawsuits that may stymie progress and the energy we have going here,” said Stivers.

               The right-to-work law was credited with spurring Braidy Industries decision to build an aluminum mill plant near South Shore, Kentucky. The plant will employ 550 people, with average salaries around $70,000. Governor Bevin also told reporters on Friday the $15 million the legislature approved for an “unknown” business investment in Eastern Kentucky, just before the end of the 2017 session, was an investment Kentucky made in Braidy. The governor said the state now owns a piece of the company.

               More than half of the state’s $5.8 billion in investments is reportedly from new business. Secretary Gill said new business has accounted for $3.8 billion in investments, the remaining $2 billion is in current business expansions. The $5.8 billion in investments has also brought 9500 new jobs. Governor Bevin said those numbers are growing every day. He spoke harshly of anyone who would want to interrupt the momentum. The governor simply said, “shame on them.” Per the governor, the state’s goal is to “create an environment where people can put seeds in the ground and that ground is fertile.”

               Friday’s news conference also touched, briefly, on the state’s pension crisis, tax reform and a possible special session. Governor Bevin said he met with House and Senate leadership Friday morning to talk about the state’s current tax code. The governor also said “there’s a 100% chance we’re going to have a special session,” pointing out he’s the person who decides if one will be called.