Reeves and Hood clash on teacher pay, roads, health care

Jim Hood (left) and Tate Reeves

The two candidates for governor met at the University of Southern Mississippi to debate before the November general election.

Posted: Oct 11, 2019 9:34 AM

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi's Republican lieutenant governor and Democratic attorney general debated teacher pay raise plans, road repairs, health care and taxes as they clashed for the first debate in the governor's race.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Attorney General Jim Hood met Thursday at the University of Southern Mississippi as they compete in Mississippi's most competitive governor's race since 2003. The two are scheduled to meet in a second debate before votes are cast Nov. 5.

Hood argued Reeves had his chance to make improvements during his eight years as lieutenant governor and that voters shouldn't keep him, saying Mississippi's economic growth is lagging and people are leaving the state.

"What we're doing is not working. His leadership has failed," Hood said.

Reeves said Hood would raise taxes to fund an overly pricey agenda.

"I'm not going to make promises that I can't keep and I'm not going to spend money we don't have," Reeves said. He added that surplus state revenue already collected would pay for the first year of his pay raise plan that he unveiled Wednesday in Gulfport.

About 250 people in the 300-seat auditorium in Hattiesburg watched the debate, sponsored by Jackson television station WJTV-TV and broadcast statewide. Some spectators were supporters of each candidate, at times cheering and jeering despite effort by moderators at control.

Hood painted a picture of Reeves as giving tax breaks to the rich while not doing enough for working people. Hood said he would help pay for his agenda by reversing Reeves' mistakes, including his refusal to take federal money to expand the state-federal Medicaid program to provide health insurance for more people.

"We've been turning down a billion dollars a year," Hood said, touting a Medicaid expansion plan in which hospitals have pledged to put up matching money. He said it would help keep rural hospitals open.

Reeves pushed his plan to focus on training and deploying more doctors to rural areas, again repeating his pledge that he would never expand "Obamacare," using the name for health care reform that links the program to former Democratic President Barack Obama. That was just part of Reeves' effort to link Hood to forces unpopular with Mississippi's conservative majority, also accusing Hood of giving plaintiffs' lawyers the ability to sue companies in exchange for campaign contributions and noting he had endorsed Hillary Clinton.

"The business community in Mississippi is scared to death of having a trial lawyer as governor," Reeves said, arguing that's why he's been able to raise more than $11 million for his campaign.

The two traded charges over an aborted plan to build an access road to Reeves' Flowood subdivision. Hood said emails show Reeves pushed a road that would have benefited him.

"The fact is, the emails were there, the evidence is there," Hood said. "He went after a state agency to build a road from his gated subdivision."

Reeves said Hood conducted an improper political investigation in an election year.

"The attorney general abused his office investigating his political opponent and everybody knows it," Reeves said.

Reeves touted moves last year to spend more on roads and bridges, an effort that will aid city and county roads and bridges the most.

"We were able to do that without raising anybody's taxes," Reeves said.

Hood, though, accused Reeves choked off support for a broader overhaul.

"The votes will be in the Legislature, we will do a road bill first thing," Hood said, citing it as an example of how Republicans and Democrats could work together, a theme he's pushing to overcome GOP efforts to hold the line against him. Reeves though, said he wanted to "translate" that statement.

"He's going to raise the gas tax to pay for it," the lieutenant governor said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319115

Reported Deaths: 7353
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22246264
Hinds20612421
Harrison18342316
Rankin13855282
Jackson13666248
Madison10213224
Lee10050176
Jones8452167
Forrest7810153
Lauderdale7253242
Lowndes6488149
Lamar632288
Lafayette6295120
Washington5412136
Bolivar4833133
Panola4659110
Oktibbeha465898
Pearl River4591146
Marshall4571105
Warren4436121
Pontotoc424573
Union415576
Monroe4154135
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4007111
Hancock385187
Leflore3514125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3366110
Alcorn323272
Scott319274
Yazoo313971
Adams304785
Itawamba304777
Copiah299666
Coahoma298283
Simpson297889
Tippah291168
Prentiss283361
Leake271674
Marion271280
Covington266683
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George251851
Newton248563
Tishomingo230867
Winston229881
Jasper222048
Attala214973
Chickasaw210459
Holmes190374
Clay187454
Stone187233
Tallahatchie179941
Clarke178980
Calhoun173732
Yalobusha167740
Smith164034
Walthall135147
Greene131633
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee127934
Perry126638
Amite125942
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Tunica107927
Jefferson Davis107633
Claiborne102930
Benton102225
Humphreys97533
Kemper96628
Franklin84923
Quitman81816
Choctaw79018
Wilkinson69332
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50817
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 547323

Reported Deaths: 11266
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson808021563
Mobile41925826
Madison35600522
Tuscaloosa26136458
Shelby25554254
Montgomery25067610
Baldwin21774313
Lee16234175
Calhoun14692325
Morgan14614285
Etowah14132361
Marshall12443230
Houston10748287
Elmore10295212
Limestone10180157
St. Clair10146250
Cullman9921200
Lauderdale9582248
DeKalb8955189
Talladega8441184
Walker7318279
Autauga7215113
Blount6925139
Jackson6900113
Colbert6394139
Coffee5616126
Dale4928114
Russell454441
Chilton4461116
Franklin430683
Covington4263122
Tallapoosa4117154
Escambia400280
Chambers3715123
Dallas3604156
Clarke352861
Marion3231106
Pike313978
Lawrence3121100
Winston283372
Bibb267364
Geneva256981
Marengo250565
Pickens236562
Barbour234559
Hale226578
Butler223371
Fayette217162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph186844
Monroe179141
Washington170339
Macon163051
Clay159559
Crenshaw155057
Cleburne152543
Lamar145837
Lowndes141953
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh112930
Coosa111129
Perry108726
Sumter105732
Greene93434
Choctaw61725
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