Bevin is becoming an outlandish statement hall of famer

Matt Bevin may be one of the nation's most unpopular governors, with an approval rating of about 30 percent. But you gotta hand it to him -- he knows how to toss out some off-the-wall, looney tunes quotes.

If there's an outlandish statement hall of fame, our governor is in there.

Remember when he tied a peaceful protest by teachers to the sexual abuse of children?

"I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today, a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them," he told reporters. "I guarantee you somewhere today, a child was physically harmed or ingested poison because they were left alone because a single parent didn't have any money to take care of them."

And here's his take on mass shootings in America:

"It starts with everything from the type of entertainment that we focus on," said Bevin, according to the Louisville Courier Journal. "What's the most popular topic that seems to be in every cable television network. Television shows are all about, what? Zombies! I don't get it … that's what we are."

And on the legalization of marijuana:

"There are people overdosing based on ingestion of products that are edibles and things," he said, according to Insider Louisville. "You have (Colorado) being sued by at least two of their border states. You have law enforcement people in emergency rooms being overrun by problems. You have homelessness spiking in that state. It has not been good for that state, and states like us would be wise to look at that and realize that's a sucker's bet."

Earlier this week, he made this incredulous statement:

"Every night somewhere in America somebody takes their life in a casino because they've wasted the last semblance of dignity and hope that they had."

I suddenly had visions of people diving from riverboat gambling ventures and throwing themselves from high-rise casinos in Las Vegas or Atlantic City.

Oh wait -- that doesn't happen!

Bevin and many Republicans are against casino gambling in Kentucky -- or any expanded gaming -- despite the fact that the Commonwealth of Kentucky's pension plan for teachers and other public employees is underfunded by over $43 billion and has a funding ratio of just over 30 percent.

Bevin's answer, of course, was to take the hatchet and start cutting pensions. Better that than trying to find additional revenue, I suppose.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers proposed a casino gambling bill in the Kentucky legislature last year, estimating that it would raise between $250 million and $1 billion in its first year.

According to a 2015 Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting story, Kentucky's neighboring states of Ohio, Illinois and Indiana collectively brought in $3.9 billion in taxes from casinos on the Ohio River over 10 years.

Bevin's Democratic opponent in the governor's race, Andy Beshear, is in favor of expanded gaming.

And it's not a new concept. Lawmakers in Illinois voted earlier this year to shore up its pension system by legalizing sports betting, casinos and fantasy sports.

Would expanded gaming fill our pension coffers immediately? Nope ... nothing will. But at least it's an option that won't damage public education by driving good teachers to other states, where they actually will have a decent pension.

The truth of the matter is Kentucky is already in the gambling business. It allows charitable gaming, operates the Kentucky Lottery and is one of the kingpins of the horse racing industry.

Why not casino gambling? Why not expanded gaming?

Don't you think those are good questions?

As for Bevin's latest "foot in mouth" comment, it's simply not true.

Michael R. Stone, who serves as the executive director for the Kentucky Council on Problem Gaming said he could only remember one instance where a gambler took their life in the casino in the 20 years he's been in his position.

Are there people who have serious gambling issues? Yes. It's a horrible disease, much like addiction to alcohol or drugs is horrible.

Casino.org reported that a fifth of people with a serious gambling addiction do actually contemplate suicide.

It's not a joking matter.

It's a serious issue and not one to be taken lightly or tossed about as political spin in such a flippant, exaggerated manner.

Here's the real truth about Bevin and his mouth: He doesn't know when to shut it.

JEFF NEAL is the editor of the Commonwealth Journal. Reach him at jneal@somerset-kentucky.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jnealCJ.

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