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Attorney General, Andy Beshear, speaks to the Bowling Green community at the Bowling Green Municipal Utilities hosted by the Warren County Kentucky Democratic Party on Monday.

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, one of the Democratic candidates for the state’s 2019 gubernatorial election, visited Bowling Green to speak at a forum on Monday.

At the forum, Beshear talked about the issues affecting Kentucky, his previous work as Kentucky’s attorney general and his plans if elected governor. The event took place at Bowling Green Municipal Utilities with about 50 people in attendance.

“While we’ve been taking on Matt Bevin, I hope you also saw the attorney general’s office,” Beshear said. “We were fighting for Kentucky families. I love this job. It’s given me more purpose because I’ve been able to help people.”

Regarding his work as attorney general, Beshear said he thought some of his most important work came from stopping the backlog of rape kits in the state, which totaled about 3,100 at the start of his time as attorney general.

Today, there are no untested rape kits in Kentucky, according to End the Backlog, which officially tracks the number of untested rape kits across the country.

“Each of those kits is a survivor that the justice system had forgotten,” Beshear said.

Beshear said he has also tried to raise more awareness for an end human trafficking and the opioid epidemic across the state. In 2017, drug overdoses killed about 1,600 people in Kentucky, according to U.S. News.

Beshear said many of those drug overdoses started through opioid addictions. He said he wanted to push for more pill disposal programs to stop “new addictions,” where a person might become addicted to opioids found in their kitchen cabinets because the medicines were not disposed of properly.

Discussing pensions, Beshear said he supported expanding gaming, including casino gaming, sports gaming and online gaming, in order to use 100 percent of that revenue to fund Kentucky’s pension system “until it is fully solvent.”

Regarding higher education, Beshear said he wanted to end the cuts to Kentucky’s postsecondary institutions and put more funding into higher education.

Kentucky higher education has faced multiple cuts under Gov. Matt Bevin. In his two-year budget proposal last January, Bevin announced his plans to cut the state’s allocation to public colleges and universities by 6.25 percent. In 2016, Bevin bypassed the state legislature to cut $41 million in education funding and lost a lawsuit filed by Beshear for doing so.

Beshear said he also wanted to work on making college more affordable. He said that at 41 years old, he is still paying off one of his college student loans, which he said “should not be the case in America.”

“Student debt is crushing right now,” Beshear said. “Higher education is an investment that we absolutely have to make.”

Beshear said he wanted to remove barriers to allow adults to go back to college and receive their degree.

To move Kentucky into the future, Beshear said he wanted to restore voting rights to non-violent drug offenders in the state, help increase Kentucky’s minimum wage and invest in technology to help enhance Kentucky’s industries, including combining agriculture and technology to advance Kentucky’s farming industry.

“I love fighting for people and that’s why I want to be your governor,” Beshear said.

Primary elections in Kentucky will take place May 21, 2019.

A forum for gubernatorial candidate Adam Edelen will take place at the Bowling Green Municipal Utilities on April 9. There will also be a forum for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rocky Adkins later this spring.

The gubernatorial candidates in Kentucky’s Democratic primary include Beshear; Rocky Adkins, Kentucky House of Representatives Minority Leader; Adam Edelen, former auditor of Public Accounts of Kentucky; and Geoff Young, perennial candidate who ran for governor of Kentucky in 2015.

The gubernatorial candidates in Kentucky’s Republican primary include Incumbent Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin; Robert Goforth, Kentucky state representative; Ike Lawrence, 2018 candidate for mayor of Lexington; and William Woods, 2012 candidate for the 66th District in the Kentucky House of Representatives.

News reporter Nicole Ziege can be reached at 270-745-6011 and nicole.ziege825@topper.wku.edu. Follow her on Twitter at @NicoleZiege.