Current Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and candidate for Lt. Governor talked to Y’all Politics about the top issues of the election. He faces Democrat Jay Hughes in the run for the top seat in the Senate that will be decided in the General Election on November 5.
“These catch words like Medicaid Expansion really thwart the argument for me,” said Hosemann. “What we’ve got is a population that is underserved for health care. A rural population that needs to make sure they’re within 30 minutes of an emergency room and can get primary care.”
He said some of the solutions in this state rely on promoting wellness.
He referenced an area in Tallahatchie County that has a wellness program built right next to the hospital. Hosemann said it has become a central area for the community. At this wellness center they walk people through their diet, teach them how to cook, and focus on sending home the right foods to eat.
“They’ve actually taken people off diabetic treatment,” said Hosemann.
He also mentioned the 31 rural hospitals that are at risk of failure. Many of those, around 19, have joined in with larger hospitals like UMMC to continue to provide services. Hosemann said those places should be supplemented to ensure they do not close.
Hosemann said he met with the Lt. Governor in Arkansas to get some insight as to how they have addressed the healthcare issues. He also plans to explore the Indiana and Texas model. Some of these models promote a work or community service requirement. Hosemann believes if you’re healthy and the state is providing some kind of coverage, you should be contributing to society.
This sentiment is something that has been challenged in Arkansas, so Hosemann said the state would have to wait and see what the courts rule on regarding the constitutionality of it.
“It’s a six billion dollar business and we don’t need to make a knee jerk decision based on an acronym,” said Hosemann.
Roads and Bridges
Due to the high volume of complaints heard about roads and bridges, Hosemann began looking at which roads and bridges are out, and why.
“We’ve got something like 425 bridges out, four of them are on state roads. So where does the money need to go? Most of the money should go to the counties and it ought to be to fix county roads,” said Hosemann.
Hosemann said his proposal will include local options for a Use Tax from two to six cents. He does not want to tax the entire population and then have that money come back through Jackson and be slapped with fees. He believes every penny that an individual county would like to fix should be designated to a specific problem and then will sunset after the need is met.
“People don’t mind paying for things when they can see them actually done,” said Hosemann. “I think Mississippi is run in the counties and I think we should support the counties.”
Hosemann has been a big proponent for consistent and substantial teacher pay raises yearly, but he said he plans to do more than just raise the pay for teachers, he wants to raise the respect level.
“First of all, teachers are underpaid. But equally as important they are under respected,” said Hosemann.
Hosemann said times have changed and that applications are down for teachers. He believes the answer lies in the lack of respect people have for teachers and what they do these days.
“When I was growing up if I went home with a note from my teacher it was my problem and my mom and dad wanted to know why I messed up,” said Hosemann. “Today that happens and they start looking, why did the teacher mess up?”
Hosemann said teachers are often over qualified, under compensated and dedicated to the teaching of the next generation of Mississippians. He said one way to bring respect back to the classroom is to get more individuals, businesses and career technical courses involved in the curriculum. He believes that when those individuals are more involved in the education process they’ll find bright students and teachers are the ones teaching them more about the workplace and these skills.
“When people start respecting that profession again it’ll be easier to get it back up to the level it needs to be,” said Hosemann.
Hosemann said if elected, one of his first priorities in office will be to fund pre-k.
“When we start them in pre-k that means they come to school more educated, you’ve got about 9,000 not in pre-k.” said Hosemann. “We need all our kids to start with the basic knowledge so they can come into school not being behind but being on the same page.”
The second action would be a teacher pay raise, which he says would happen early in the session. Hosemann also says there needs to be full funding for special education.
“Something I think we have neglected in Mississippi, which we haven’t funded our special education. First of all, it’s a federal law. Those children are entitled to the same educational capabilities that you and I had,” said Hosemann.
He said these children can work just like anyone else. He used Baptist Hospital as an example, a hospital who has hired 10 special needs individuals. This was a move that he says has brightened the establishment up. He believes those individuals need the same opportunities to work, participate in the economy and vote.
While Hosemann said he believes he could work well with either candidate for governor (Hood or Reeves) depending on who is elected, he personally supports the Republican Party candidate.
He reminded Mississippians to make sure to go out and vote in November.