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: 16769

Reported Deaths: 803
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds110426
Madison77829
Lauderdale76569
Neshoba73945
Jones70933
Scott66312
Forrest60039
DeSoto59310
Rankin4639
Leake45512
Holmes44431
Copiah3344
Jackson31415
Attala31218
Yazoo2985
Newton2924
Oktibbeha28314
Leflore28238
Lincoln28131
Wayne2803
Monroe26925
Harrison2687
Lamar2525
Lowndes2529
Pearl River21231
Pike20411
Adams20416
Warren19910
Washington1998
Lee1978
Noxubee1956
Covington1832
Bolivar16911
Jasper1684
Clarke15619
Smith15611
Lafayette1564
Kemper15611
Chickasaw14314
Coahoma1324
Clay1254
Winston1241
Carroll11911
Marion1169
Claiborne1165
Yalobusha1116
Grenada1104
Lawrence1071
Simpson1050
Sunflower963
Tate931
Hancock9012
Marshall893
Union897
Itawamba897
Webster885
Panola873
Wilkinson859
Montgomery841
Jefferson Davis823
Tippah7611
Calhoun684
Walthall670
Amite651
Humphreys647
Tunica583
Prentiss533
Choctaw522
Perry513
Pontotoc493
Jefferson421
Tishomingo360
Stone320
Quitman320
Tallahatchie311
Greene301
George302
Franklin292
Alcorn191
Benton140
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 19387

Reported Deaths: 676
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2341123
Jefferson1927105
Montgomery190544
Tuscaloosa85316
Marshall7149
Franklin5939
Lee56334
Shelby53619
Tallapoosa43566
Butler43121
Walker3973
Elmore38110
Chambers36326
Madison3594
Unassigned3144
Morgan3141
Baldwin2969
Dallas2963
Lowndes26912
Etowah26512
DeKalb2603
Autauga2485
Coffee2401
Sumter2369
Houston2275
Pike2231
Bullock2197
Colbert1972
Hale19210
Russell1870
Barbour1831
Marengo1796
Lauderdale1752
Calhoun1693
Cullman1631
Wilcox1587
Choctaw15310
Clarke1492
St. Clair1372
Randolph1288
Dale1250
Marion12511
Talladega1215
Pickens1215
Limestone1100
Chilton1081
Greene955
Macon944
Winston920
Jackson863
Henry842
Covington831
Crenshaw803
Escambia793
Bibb761
Washington746
Blount641
Lawrence510
Monroe492
Geneva450
Perry430
Conecuh421
Coosa401
Cherokee383
Clay282
Lamar280
Fayette160
Cleburne151
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