- Associated Press - Friday, December 4, 2015

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Hal Heiner will have a job in the Kentucky governor’s office. It just won’t be the one he wanted.

The former Louisville metro councilman who spent more than $4 million of his own money to finish third in May’s Republican primary will be the state’s next Education and Workforce Development secretary. Republican Gov.-elect Matt Bevin made the announcement on Friday, four days before he officially takes office after defeating Democrat Jack Conway last month.

“Hal has the proven experience and commitment to ensure that we make meaningful progress for students at all levels,” Bevin said in a news release announcing the appointment.

Just seven months ago, the two candidates were attacking each other in a debate broadcast live on Kentucky Sports Radio, where Bevin criticized Heiner for his stands on gun control issues, and Heiner attacked Bevin because “he’ll say anything to get elected.”

But the two reconciled after the primary. Heiner even endorsed Bevin and campaigned with him publicly just days before the election. And Bevin appointed Heiner to his transition team after his victory.

Spokeswoman Cathy Lindsey says the cabinet employs about 2,500 people and has a budget of $5.9 billion. But most of that budget, $5.2 billion, belongs to the Kentucky Department of Education, which is overseen by a commissioner and governed by a separate board.

In a news release, Heiner said Kentucky’s most important responsibility is to recognize Kentuckians’ gifts and “develop educational options assisting them in achieving their most fulfilled life.”

“I am honored to have the opportunity to work towards improvement of those options,” he said.

Bevin has said he wants to reform how Kentucky trains its workforce. A survey by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce found the state spends $900 million a year on workforce training yet just 8 percent of employers said Kentucky’s workers have “good skills.” Bevin campaigned on focusing more on vocational training for prospective workers, putting less emphasis on obtaining expensive four-year degrees from colleges and universities.

Also on Friday, Bevin appointed Thomas B. Stephens as secretary for the personnel cabinet. An attorney, Stephens is the former general counsel for the personnel cabinet, served four years on the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance and is the former general counsel for the Public Safety cabinet.

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