Lt. Governor Tate Reeves sat down with Y’all Politics to talk about the policy issues and his plans to improve areas like infrastructure, education, and healthcare if elected governor of Mississippi.
“We’ve got to understand that we need to focus on not only affordability but also accessibility of more healthcare in rural areas across Mississippi,” said Reeves. “This is a challenge all across America.”
Reeves said like himself, most conservatives believe expanding Obamacare and the expansion of “government run” healthcare is not a good idea, while most Democrats believe in a single payer system. He said this some of the major differences on a national level between the candidates.
The state has already moved forward to invest money into creating more doctors and nurses. He said that has allowed those classes to increase from 100 doctors to 150 doctors. Reeves has also proposed doubling the number of rural physician scholarships. He has also proposed more residencies across Mississippi in areas that aren’t just Jackson.
“We need more telemedicine in Mississippi. Mississippi has been considered a leader in telemedicine and we need more,” said Reeves. He said while they can’t ensure that their are specialists located in every rural area of Mississippi, they can make sure they have access to one until they can get someone where their needs can be treated.
He said he believes providing a tax credit in small communities and businesses who want to support their local hospitals while incentivize them to invest in those areas. He believes this will help the hospitals raise more money.
“The Special Session in 2018 was a good first step,” said Reeves. “What we passed will provide around $1.2 billion over five years.”
Reeves said the Mississippi Economic Council, the leader in spending more money on roads and bridges called the legislative move a ‘home run.’ He said this is because they believe this move will go a long way to help address the states issues.
“I’m told that 350 and 400 bridges are actually on the list to be fixed as we speak. They’re going through the various environmental phases and engineering phases but they’ll be fixed over the next 12 months or so.”
This is critical especially for our rural areas so that goods and services can get where they need to go.
Reeves is adamantly against raising the gas tax. He said that is a major difference between himself and his opponent. He said this is not an easy solution for Mississippians who drive 30 or 40 miles to work.
“I will not let them raise the gas tax,” said Reeves.
Reeves said the key to improving public education is the willingness to invest more.
“When we raised teacher pay in 2014, 2015 and 2019. Those raises cumulatively were about $4,000 a year is in addition to the $500 raise every teacher gets as they matriculate additional years of service,” said Reeves.
He said the reality is, teachers are still not paid what they are worth. In his potential teacher pay plan is on he says the state can afford and gets the state to the Southeastern average in four years.
“That is an obtainable goal that we can accomplish,” said Reeves.
It is $1,500 in year one, $1,000 in year two and year three and $800 in year four.
“I’ve also proposed to recruit new teachers to critical shortage areas. These can be found in terms of geographical areas and also areas like STEM where it is harder and harder to recruit high quality teachers in those areas,” said Reeves.
He said currently the state provides at $6,000 a year supplement to National Board Certified Teachers. Reeves proposes that that number be bumped up to $10,000.
The state has also doubled the amount of money given to the teacher supply fund, and he thinks it should be doubled again going from $6 million to $12 million and he proposes that number go to $24 million now.
“I think teacher pay will allow us to incentivize teachers to stay in Mississippi. It will also help us recruit more teachers into the profession,” said Reeves.
He said if elected he will also create a Teacher Advisory Council that meets with him directly so that he can find out more about what is happening in the classrooms across the state.
“I think more than anything else many of our teachers, my mother in law just retired from the profession, need to know we are on their side and we appreciate what they do and we do. They are doing great work. The outcomes of Mississippi are improving and that’s something we should be proud of,” said Reeves.
Reeves said one of his top priorities is workforce development and workforce training. He said he has proposed a $100 million investment in workforce training. He said that money can come from the Capitol Expense Fund, with no raise in taxes or increase in debt, to invest in facilities and the training.
“Career and technical education is going to be critically important for the next governor and I have a plan to deal with it and it will be one of the first things I do,” said Reeves.
Democratic candidate, Jim Hood, declined to be interviewed through a spokesperson from his campaign.