Rocky Adkins

Political party: 
Democrat
Question 1: 

What’s your vision for Kentucky? How will our commonwealth be better in four years if you’re elected?

We are running on a simple, but important, platform: return common sense to the commonwealth. We believe that public education is the great equalizer, and we must ensure that every student, from our rural towns to our urban centers, receives the highest quality education. We believe that investing in infrastructure is the first step to creating opportunity for every hard-working Kentucky family, whether it’s improving our roads and bridges or building the high-speed internet network of the future. We believe that our focus should be on growing jobs that provide a fair wage and spur sustainable economic growth in all regions of the commonwealth. We believe that everyone should have access to health care. No Kentuckian should ever have to delay care or make the tough decision between purchasing prescription medication or paying their electric bill. As a cancer survivor, I believe we must make medical marijuana legal to help people that suffer from certain diseases and conditions. It is time we make voting easier, with extended early voting and automatic registration. The people of Kentucky will no longer have to fight alone for a better job, better schools, better health care, better roads, or a better way, by themselves. They will have a governor who will fight for them.

Question 2: 

If you are elected Governor, what steps will you take to encourage transparency, media access and meaningful public participation in decisions made by state government?

The capitol building is the people’s house. The recent moves by Gov. Bevin to limit access to our legislative chambers and the capitol building are unacceptable. As a legislative leader, I have seen committee rooms closed to voters trying to participate in the legislative process. I have seen bills rushed through the committee process without public input. Government should be inclusive and transparent, and I will work every day to make that a reality. I have a strong record of speaking with the media and not dodging tough questions.

Question 3: 

Do you believe that we have an obligation and opportunity to act on climate change? What actions would you take to ensure that solutions, such as clean energy jobs and reducing high energy bills, benefit all Kentuckians, including low-income communities, communities of color, and those who are most impacted by the changing climate?

Coal mining has supported Eastern and Western Kentucky families for generations. It has played an essential role in our past and our present. We need to invest in a diversified energy economy in the coalfields in the future. I sponsored the Kentucky Energy Independence National Leadership Act, which brought the coal and environmental industries together along with the academic community to implement energy incentives to attract new technologies of the future. This bill increased the utilization of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, and created the Center for Renewable Energy Research and Environmental Stewardship at the University of Louisville, now known as the Conn Center. This brought research and development money into Kentucky to advance new energy technologies. It also promoted conservation and incentives for energy-efficient construction. I support programs that would train former coal miners and others to work in the energy efficiency sector, making energy-saving retrofits. These retrofits lower energy bills, make homes and businesses healthier, lower energy use, and put people back to work. This year, I worked with solar and environmental leaders to make sure the net-metering bill is fair without harming a growing industry.

Question 4: 

Do you support a constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to tens of thousands of Kentuckians with felonies in their past who have completed their full sentence? If the state legislature remains locked on this issue, would you use executive power to restore voting rights to all Kentuckians with felonies in their past who are currently restricted from voting? Please explain.

Our commonwealth is stronger when more people vote, and it’s downright un-American to put up roadblocks for people trying to cast a ballot. Whether it’s my 83-year-old father in Elliott County or a young woman in Jefferson County working three jobs, everyone deserves to have a say at the polls. As governor, I will remove restrictive barriers that prevent Kentucky voices from being heard. I have voted many times for the restoration of voting rights during my service in the House and I support broader legislation, like early voting and automatic voter registration, to allow more people to vote.

Question 5: 

Will you protect or even expand access to Medicaid for the nearly 400,000 low-income Kentuckians who qualified for health care – including vision, dental and mental health – for the first time under the Affordable Care Act? What is your view of the current administration’s efforts to limit access to Medicaid, including new co-pay requirements, restrictions on vision and dental coverage and work requirements?

Expanded Medicaid was a game-changer for Kentucky that has saved lives, improved our collective health and pumped billions of dollars into our economy. The work requirements implemented by the current governor have restricted access to necessary care for some of the most vulnerable Kentuckians. He’s wrong and the policies should be reversed. Expanded Medicaid isn’t only a health care policy; it’s also an economic development issue that supports the health care industry across our state, including our rural hospitals.

Question 6: 

What is the Governor’s role in opposing white supremacy, addressing racial inequality and supporting racial justice for black people, Latinx people, immigrants, those who are undocumented, and all people of color in Kentucky? Please identify at least two policy initiatives you would propose as Governor to address racial and systemic inequalities.

Expanding access to voting and criminal justice reform are two ways we can begin to address inequality in Kentucky. I will have a cabinet that includes people of color and other minority groups. We need people of different backgrounds and experiences sitting at the table when policies are made. I will work to unite our commonwealth and put a stop to the divisive agenda of Gov. Bevin.

Question 7: 

Kentucky has a tax code that does not raise enough revenue to meet the Commonwealth’s budgetary needs. After years of budget cuts, public education, infrastructure, state worker pensions and other essential programs have reached dangerous levels of disinvestment. What solutions would you support to raise the necessary revenue for the public investments Kentuckians need and deserve?

There are $13 billion of tax loopholes in the Kentucky tax code, which is about $2 billion more than our entire general fund budget. Fair and comprehensive tax reform that leads to only 10 percent of that $13 billion will give the state $1.3 billion to fund necessary programs, without losing any competitive advantage in recruiting or retaining business and industry. Consumption taxes are unfair to lower income populations and are not the answer to a revenue problem. Kentucky must stop balancing its checkbook on the backs of working families. We will also look at ways to generate revenue through medical marijuana, hemp, and other new industries.

Question 8: 

Do you support Kentucky’s public workers having a quality public pension? What do you consider to be a quality public pension?

What happened to educators and public employees in the last legislative session is inexcusable. No educator, school bus driver, fire fighter, police officer or other public employee should have to beg for the dignity of the pension they were promised. A pension is a promise that must be kept, and as your governor, I will keep that promise. In 2013, the legislature implemented reforms to strengthen the faltering retirement system. Those reforms are working, and the numbers prove it. To solve this pension problem we must keep the reforms we made in 2013 and fully fund it. In addition, we need to identify a dedicated fund source for our pension system. We need to review the $13 billion in annual tax breaks and close enough loopholes to shore up our pension system. We must also not forget that teachers do not receive Social Security; they are especially dependent on their pensions. Lowering them would also make it tougher to lure our best and brightest to Kentucky classrooms.

Question 9: 

What will you do to support LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer) Kentuckians? What will you do to protect people from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity?

I will fight for all Kentuckians, regardless of race, ethnicity, how much money they make, or their sexual orientation. Anyone who cares about the future of our commonwealth, and is willing to help us get there, has my respect. I believe that everyone has the right to a roof over their head, access to a good job, and affordable health care, no matter who they are.

Question 10: 

Kentucky has the ninth highest incarceration rate in the nation, is second in the nation for incarcerating women, and has the second highest rate in the country of children separated from a parent due to incarceration. In addition, black Kentuckians makeup 8.3% of the state population but 21% of the state’s incarcerated population. Are you committed to ending mass incarceration in Kentucky? If elected, what will you do to make strides toward ending mass incarceration?

I believe in reducing our prison population through rehabilitation programs and reduced sentences for non-violent offenders. People should be welcomed back as fully-fledged members of their communities and the workforce once they’ve paid their debt to society. One way to lower mass incarceration before it even begins is by revitalizing communities across Kentucky. We need to make sure people have ample access to opportunity, education, health care, and can create a future for themselves and their families. Lastly, it is imperative to the future of our commonwealth that we work to curb the opioid epidemic. We must pass sensible legislation that will keep our neighborhoods safe and increase access to prevention and treatment programs. Kentucky has one of the lowest violent-crime rates in the country. Our prison growth is driven substantially by drugs and issues tied to them. We must find more ways to curb the drug epidemic.