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Gov. Bevin, Beshear kickoff gubernatorial debates in Paducah

PADUCAH (WSIL) — Republican incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin and attorney general Andy Beshear kicked off the first of five debates Thursday afternoon ahead of the general elections in November.

Both men spoke in front of a crowd of 500 people inside the Paducah Convention Center as they tried to win over voters in Western Kentucky by debating on a wide-range of issues, including job creation, improving infrastructure and fixing the education system.

The democratic challenger Beshear touted himself as a candidate who believes in the power of education and vowed to reverse the cuts made to education under the Bevin administration.

But the governor wasted no time calling out the candidate’s plan, saying that Beshear has no idea where he’ll get the funding to lower college tuition across the state.

"You’re not only going to cut tuition costs but you’re also going to increase the amount of funding but there’s no solution as to where the money is going to come from," Bevin said.

Beshear said that creating new ways to generate revenue, including the legalization of gaming and recreational marijuana, can help reach his campaign’s goal of helping the state and its residents.

"What they do is create a dedicated revenue stream that goes solely into our pension system," Beshear said. "That increases our bond rating, decreases our costs, and creates extra general fund dollars that used to be coming into the pension system that we can spend on our priorities and public education, health care and jobs."

Throughout the debate, both candidates took slight jabs at one another. Beshear criticized Bevin for not publicly disclosing details surrounding the trips the governor has made on the state plane, which is taxpayer-funded.

The governor struck back with accusations that Beshear personally profited from the opioid crisis, adding that the challenger’s law firm had settlement negotiations with Purdue Pharma.

Beshear said the pharmaceutical company was a client of his firm, but that he personally didn’t take part in the negotiations, calling the governor’s accusation a conspiracy theory.

Both Beshear and Bevin will debate four more times before the general election happens on November 5. The next debate between both candidates is scheduled for October 15 in Lexington.

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