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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: 36680

Reported Deaths: 1250
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds299254
DeSoto195920
Madison148439
Jones122449
Harrison117716
Rankin112619
Neshoba104677
Forrest103843
Lauderdale96681
Scott82415
Jackson79819
Washington73713
Copiah67016
Leake63420
Lee62822
Oktibbeha61928
Grenada6049
Warren60021
Holmes59541
Lamar5837
Wayne56519
Yazoo5607
Lowndes54817
Leflore53456
Lincoln53335
Lafayette5064
Pike50520
Sunflower5048
Monroe46135
Panola4546
Covington4465
Simpson4433
Bolivar41218
Tate39213
Attala38624
Newton37610
Adams35820
Pontotoc3556
Marion34512
Claiborne30811
Pearl River30332
Winston30111
Chickasaw30019
Marshall2923
Jasper2816
Noxubee2799
Walthall2708
Clay26111
Union25412
Smith25212
Coahoma2306
Clarke22325
Lawrence2132
Yalobusha2089
Tallahatchie1954
Kemper18414
Carroll18211
Montgomery1793
Calhoun1705
Humphreys16910
Hancock14813
Itawamba1478
Tippah14611
Webster13411
Jefferson1283
Prentiss1274
Jefferson Davis1254
Tunica1253
George1233
Greene11610
Amite1123
Alcorn1072
Tishomingo1061
Quitman1011
Wilkinson989
Perry914
Stone772
Choctaw764
Franklin542
Sharkey480
Benton470
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 54768

Reported Deaths: 1096
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6746170
Mobile4904140
Montgomery4547112
Tuscaloosa269053
Madison22689
Marshall198011
Shelby169125
Lee159637
Morgan13385
Baldwin127711
Walker107532
Elmore106721
Etowah101114
Dallas10029
DeKalb9677
Franklin93816
Autauga69815
Russell6860
Unassigned67928
Chambers67730
Butler65229
Limestone6393
Tallapoosa63069
Cullman6156
Houston6077
Lauderdale5776
St. Clair5443
Calhoun5155
Colbert5096
Escambia4888
Lowndes48422
Pike4795
Jackson4352
Coffee4284
Covington41612
Talladega4017
Barbour3992
Dale3951
Bullock37810
Hale35423
Marengo35411
Chilton3312
Blount3201
Clarke3176
Wilcox3038
Winston2995
Sumter29213
Marion29014
Pickens2746
Randolph2639
Monroe2603
Perry2502
Conecuh2318
Bibb2241
Macon2199
Choctaw21712
Greene1989
Henry1553
Washington1488
Lawrence1360
Crenshaw1323
Cherokee1247
Geneva980
Lamar891
Clay852
Fayette851
Coosa661
Cleburne451
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