On Friday, just hours after protesting teachers flooded Kentucky's capitol building to rally against a pension reform plan and call for increased school funding, the state's Republican governor, Matt Bevin, suggested school closures caused by the striking educators were endangering children.
Bevin decried the latest spending bill, which raises cigarette sales tax by half and increases sales tax on some consumer services, as "sloppy" and "nontransparent" in a Friday tweet, and believes the bill underestimates the cost of school funding needed.
Teachers unions slammed the comments as incredibly offensive. A survey done in 2011 and summarized in 2013 found that two percent of 5-year-olds and 6-year-olds who lived with their mother were left alone some of the time they weren't in school; that proportion increased to almost 30 percent of 14-year-olds.
Republicans - with an eye toward the gallery filled with red-clad teachers - said Democrats were hypocritical because they champion education while voting against the revenue bill and budget which funds increases to education. Is he resorting to these disgusting comments because the legislature overrode his veto?
"I don't think the governor's comments are in any way accurate", he told BuzzFeed News.
"With that reasoning we would never have any vacation or breaks in school, and who knows what would happen in the summer", he said.
Bevin's communications office did not respond to email request for comment.
"Sexual assault is not something to joke about", he told BuzzFeed News on Saturday. This rhetoric has crossed a line.
Lily Eskelsen García, the president of the National Education Association, said Bevin's remarks were insulting to teachers. "Well, that's a coward", said Kentucky state Rep. Regina Huff (R), a middle school special-education teacher, the Courier-Journal reported.
Thousands of teachers attended a protest rally Friday at the Capitol.
Teachers from across Kentucky gather inside the state Capitol to rally for increased funding and to protest changes to their state funded pension system, Friday, April 13, 2018, in Frankfort, Ky.
The state's protests are part of a political shift that has seen teachers organize grassroots campaigns to flex their political muscle in several states where years of budget cuts that began during the 2008 economic downturn left salaries stagnant and many public schools in disrepair.
Bevin said, that in some "communities", his fellow Kentuckians knew children would be home alone and "took advantage of it". "As surely as we're having this conversation, children were harmed-some physically, some sexually-some were introduced to drugs for the first time because they were vulnerable and left alone".
Kentucky Education Association President Stephanie Winkler, who has sparred with the governor in recent weeks, said she was "appalled" by the remark.
When asked by reporters what he thought of Friday's teachers protest, Bevin described it with disdain.
Bevin also told reporters he was "offended by the fact that people so cavalierly, and so flippantly, disregarded what's truly best for children" and claimed he saw "a lot of people hanging out, shoes-off, smoking, leaving trash around, taking the day off".