Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Fact-checking the candidates in the latest debate

By Anthony Pendleton
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

As the candidates for governor faced off in their first one-on-one televised debate Tuesday, again more questionable statements were made. Here are some of those statements, and how they stand up to the facts.

Common Core State Standards Initiative
               Republican Matt Bevin said, “We embraced it here in Kentucky before the standards were even written.”
               According to this interactive map on, Kentucky adopted the standards on Feb. 10, 2010. According to an article in Education Week, that made Kentucky the first state to do so. However, the article also states that the standards were “still in draft form, with a final version expected by early spring.” According to a press release from the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association, a final version was released on June 2.
               If Bevin meant Kentucky adopted the standards before they were written, he’d be wrong – Kentucky adopted them while they were still being drafted. If he was referring to the fact that Kentucky signed on with the CCSSO and NGA to develop the standards in June 2009, i.e. before they were written, then he’d be correct. But so did 46 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. But that was just an agreement to help develop the standards, so of course nothing would be written at that point.

The economy
               Bevin also criticized the performance of the economy during Democrat Jack Conway’s eight years as attorney general. That office has little to do with the economy, but Bevin was implicitly criticizing another Democrat, Gov. Steve Beshear, whom Conway has praised.
               “When Jack came into office seven-and-a-half years ago, there were 71,000 more people working in Kentucky than there are today," Bevin said. "At the beginning of this year, there were 31,000 more people working in Kentucky than there are today. And he’s quick to blame this on the downturn of the economy. Well, Indiana over the same time period, has 50,000 plus more people working today. Tennessee has created more than 20,000 jobs a year more than we have.”
               Conway was sworn into office as attorney general in January 2008. At that time, Kentucky had 2,021,045 people in the labor force, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As of August 2015, the most recent data available, Kentucky has 1,941,531 in the labor force. This is a decrease of 79,514 people, so Bevin actually understated the shrinkage of the state’s labor force.
               According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Kentucky had 1,981,807 people in the labor force in January of this year. As previously stated, data from August shows there are currently 1,941,531 in the labor force. This is a decrease of 40,276 people, so Bevin is correct, and understating again.
               According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Indiana had 3,211,065 people in the labor force in January 2008. In August 2015, the most recent data available, Indiana had 3,265,095 people in the labor force. This is an increase of 54,030 people. Again, Bevin is correct.
               According to the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, Tennessee has created 290,400 jobs from February 2010 to August 2015. Kentucky has created 142,600 jobs during that same time -- a difference of 147,800 more jobs created in Tennessee. Over the course of 5.5 years, an average of 26,872 more jobs were created in Tennessee each year. Yet again, Bevin is correct.
               But while Kentucky might be in the red on job creation over an eight year span, but a deeper look into current numbers tells a different story.
In 2015, Kentucky has created 34,100 jobs, Indiana 75,600, and Tennessee 52,500; however Indiana and Tennessee are much larger states than Kentucky. When those numbers are compared to the workforce in each state Kentucky has created 17.6 jobs per 1,000 members of the labor force. Indiana is significantly ahead, at 23.2 jobs per 1,000, but Tennessee is actually slightly behind Kentucky, at 17.2 jobs per 1,000 members of the labor force.

Minimum Wage
               Conway said he believes it should be raised to $10.10 on the federal level because “you cannot raise a family on $7.25 an hour.”
               According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Living Wage Map, that is correct. There’s not a single county in America that can support either a family of four, a single parent with one child, or a single adult on $7.25 an hour. And there are only a handful of counties in Washington state, which has a minimum wage of $9.32, that can support a single adult on just the state minimum wage.

Information for this story was also gathered by UK journalism student Matt Young.