Democratic candidate Jay Hughes is headed to the November 5 election for Lt. Governor against Republican candidate Delbert Hosemann. It has been said in the past that the two candidates don’t differ much on the topics. Hughes sat down with Y’all Politics to discuss the key issues the state faces and where he stands on correcting them.
If elected Hughes said his first point of business would be to implement more transparency in the Capitol.
“Turn the lights on in this building so that people like [you] know exactly what bills were about to be taken up in a committee hearing and start having real hearings instead of kangaroo courts where they already know and the lobbyists already know what bills are going to be passed,” said Hughes.
“Well, first of all, it’s not Medicaid expansion because that will not pass in Mississippi, but what we do have support for is getting federal dollars that will cover the healthcare of 300,000 Mississippians. It’s called Mississippi Cares,” said Hughes.
Hughes said Mississippi Cares is supported by hospitals statewide, those that are fully functioning as well as those who are closing. He compared its impact to what was done in Indiana by then Governor, Mike Pence.
He said this plan would require workers to have to pay and have some ‘skin in the game,’ and the hospitals would pick up the rest. He believes that having this plan in place will allow for the ‘least among us’ to have accessibility to healthcare.
“The infrastructure bills we passed last year were a joke,” said Hughes.
He believes the over 500 roads and bridges that are closed are bad for business in the state. He says if a business is looking to locate in Mississippi and you have to drive them on the roads to see that, it doesn’t do well for the economy.
He believes there needs to be a renewable way to increase revenue for those projects every year. Hughes calls it a ‘use tax’ but it is also commonly referred to as a gas tax. He also said that the job of reviewing the roads needs to go back to state inspectors and not federal.
“Our engineers were doing that for $800k a year and we are now paying over $30 million a year,” said Hughes. He says the money is there but priorities need to be shifted.
Teacher Pay Raise
Hughes said he’s been filing bills yearly to raise teacher pay and is not the type of lawmaker that ‘finds out about it’ during an election year.
“Money doesn’t cure everything, but respect is something they desperately need,” said Hughes.
He said the bills to punish teachers need to stop coming from the Legislature. That would come in the form of less testing, allowing for students to have the avenues to develop skills in the event a four-year college is not in their future. Hughes said unfunded mandates need to end in order to allow teachers to teach.
He believes teachers need more incentives to come.
“We should say if you’ll teach in this area for three years then we’ll pay for our board certification or we will start you on your third year of pay on the scale if you’re going into some of the STEM classes we are having a shortage in,” said Hughes.
Hughes said he was not satisfied with the pay raise appropriated by Legislature in 2019 and thought it was an election year pandering.
“We’ve been trying to raise teacher pay for years, and to have to fight to get it to $1500 while $2 million gets sent to driveway or $2 million gets sent to vouchers…no,” said Hughes.
“Anything we do, the most valuable asset is a qualified teacher in the front of it,” said Hughes.
First, Hughes said MAEP needs to be fully funded. He said without the proper funding lower-income districts suffer and do not allow for the same opportunities as an affluent district.
“I know what public education did for me, it is the greatest equalizer there is. Nobody can ever take it away from you. You can’t lose it, it can’t be stolen,” said Hughes.
Hughes said regardless of who wins the gubernatorial race, if he is elected he will work diligently with that individual. If he is met with opposition he said he will continue to do what he believes is best for the people of Mississippi.