LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Children were sexually assaulted or ingested poison Friday because teachers were at the Capitol to protest the state budget, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said in an impromptu press conference just hours after his vetoes of the budget and tax reform bills were overridden.
"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," Bevin said. "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."
Bevin made the comments when approached by reporters outside the state Capitol just before 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Teachers from across the state rallied in Frankfort on Friday to encourage legislators to override the governor's vetoes of the tax reform bill and the budget. At least 39 school districts were out of session to allow education officials and other supporters to meet in Frankfort to protest.
Bevin said "hundreds of thousands of children" were left alone across Kentucky as a result.
"Children were harmed — some physically, some sexually, some were introduced to drugs for the first time — because they were vulnerable and left alone," Bevin continued.
Kentucky Education Association President Stephanie Winkler, who has sparred with the governor in recent weeks, said she was "appalled" by the remark.
"There is no rational comment I could make to that," Winkler said.
Jefferson County Teachers Association President Brent McKim said that using Bevin's logic, schools should never close.
"The fact is, every school district did its level best to let parents know school was going to be closed with as much notice as possible," McKim said. "The bottom line is that’s one day. He was cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from kids that would impact every day and that’s what we were in Frankfort to stop. We were there with the overwhelming support and encouragement of our parents who know that we care about every student in our classes."