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Panel Offers Preview Of 2015 Gubernatorial Race

Josh James

It wasn’t quite a gubernatorial debate, but Kentuckians got a taste of the coming campaign Tuesday at a business summit panel in Louisville.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Hal Heiner, likely contender Agriculture Commissioner Jamie Comer, and State Auditor Adam Edelen engaged in a lively debate over tax reform, Right to Work legislation, and other issues at the final event of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce 2014 Business Summit.

Both Heiner and Comer, who plans to announce in August, argued strongly for Right to Work legislation, saying it could immediately attract companies to the Bluegrass and reduce the need for tax incentives.

"It's becoming the screen out tool for major companies, especially international companies, on whether you even get on the list for them to consider," Heiner told the audience.

Comer agreed, adding, "It is a top tier issue. It sends a signal that Kentucky is open and ready for business."

Edelen, who decided against a gubernatorial run in June, countered that the state should look for ways to help the business climate, but not while sacrificing some of the protections he said have helped bolster the middle class.

"That's where we've got to focus. Anyone who tells you can just go Right to Work or we can just do this one thing and it will create this panacea, they're not telling you the truth," he said.

The panel also saw sharp disagreements over Common Core education standards and a statewide smoking ban. If elected, both Republicans said they would not push for expanded gaming but would allow legislative efforts to pass a voter referendum on the issue to move forward.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Jack Conway was scheduled to appear on the panel, but was unable to attend.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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