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.

Confirmed Cases: 115088

Reported Deaths: 3255
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7973177
DeSoto703979
Harrison522384
Jackson457884
Rankin394086
Madison383194
Lee357380
Forrest304678
Jones292484
Washington258399
Lafayette250443
Lauderdale2478135
Lamar225538
Oktibbeha202454
Bolivar201677
Neshoba1849111
Lowndes179962
Panola170040
Leflore167187
Sunflower162349
Warren154855
Monroe150673
Pontotoc147220
Marshall143129
Lincoln140157
Pike138456
Copiah137536
Scott125429
Coahoma124937
Grenada122638
Yazoo122234
Simpson121549
Union118825
Tate116839
Leake115041
Holmes114760
Itawamba113925
Pearl River113660
Adams108544
Prentiss106120
Wayne101722
Alcorn100112
George99218
Covington97527
Marion95042
Tippah90322
Newton86627
Chickasaw85526
Tallahatchie84526
Winston84121
Hancock84028
Tishomingo81241
Attala79426
Clarke75851
Clay69321
Jasper68717
Walthall63927
Calhoun62612
Noxubee59817
Smith59416
Montgomery54923
Yalobusha54514
Claiborne53716
Tunica53517
Lawrence51814
Perry49423
Carroll49312
Greene47818
Stone47514
Humphreys43816
Amite42513
Quitman4206
Jefferson Davis41011
Webster37613
Benton3416
Wilkinson33820
Kemper32615
Sharkey28514
Jefferson27610
Franklin2423
Choctaw2086
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 155915

Reported Deaths: 2674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23129377
Mobile16849315
Tuscaloosa10296140
Montgomery10197197
Madison928096
Shelby733863
Baldwin663769
Lee653465
Calhoun456761
Marshall438150
Etowah426551
Houston414834
Morgan412035
DeKalb338829
Elmore320053
St. Clair292542
Limestone284230
Walker277292
Talladega265335
Cullman244024
Lauderdale226242
Jackson214915
Franklin205231
Autauga204831
Colbert200532
Russell19443
Blount192525
Chilton186932
Dallas186527
Coffee176311
Dale175151
Covington174029
Escambia172530
Chambers135044
Clarke134317
Pike133513
Tallapoosa131787
Marion107629
Barbour10319
Marengo100822
Butler100740
Winston92213
Geneva9007
Lawrence85032
Pickens84718
Bibb82814
Randolph82316
Hale76730
Washington74412
Clay74112
Cherokee73314
Lowndes70928
Henry7086
Bullock64817
Monroe64610
Crenshaw60630
Perry5896
Fayette57413
Wilcox56712
Conecuh56113
Cleburne5568
Macon53420
Lamar4905
Sumter47221
Choctaw39012
Greene34216
Coosa2033
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Overcast
63° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 63°
Columbus
Overcast
62° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 62°
Oxford
Overcast
59° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 59°
Starkville
Overcast
59° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 59°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather