Hobnob 2019 hosted by the Mississippi Economic Council featured candidates in all statewide elections along with a capstone sit down with Governor Bryant and First Lady Deborah Bryant on their tenure in office.
The matchup on the political stump that most folks were there to listen to was the one between Republican Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves and Democrat Attorney Jim Hood. Hobnob is one of the last opportunities for candidates to speak to such a large audience before they face off for Governor in the General Election on Tuesday. Both used the opportunity to make their closing arguments in the campaign.
Hood told attendees that this election is a turning point for the state.
“If there is anything I hope you remember from me speaking today is one figure, it’s 2%. Our rate of growth in Mississippi since 2009 has been 2%,” said Hood. He went on to portray Mississippi’s economy as the worst economy in the nation.
Hood said the problem lies in a lack of investment in the people of Mississippi. He believes some of the ways to change that is infrastructure and expanding healthcare through the expansion on Medicaid. He said if the state were to expand Medicaid it would generate a billion dollars in additional revenue for the state.
“The other is something MEC agrees with me on, its education. What we need to do is pass 4-k education statewide in Mississippi. Early childhood education is the best bang for a states buck in the area of economic development,” said Hood.
He said Reeves can continue throwing labels around like “liberal” and “Nancy Pelosi” but that Hood is moderate. He said even if he were elected, the conservative legislature that will be in place wouldn’t allow for liberal agendas to be passed. Hood also said he wouldn’t try to pass them either.
He referred to the current administration as a “swamp” created by Reeves and said his choice to run is based on changing the course of Mississippi and draining that “swamp.”
Hood said if elected he plans to do so in a non-partisan way.
While Hood’s narrative called for a change in the state, Reeves reminded voters that it is time to choose and “conservative policies work.”
“We need a governor focused on job creation, bringing better and higher paying jobs to Mississippi. The way we get there is through investment in workforce development and workforce training,” said Reeves. Reeves said it is the governments job to create an environment in which the private sector can create those jobs.
Reeves remarked on the accomplishments of the Republican leadership over the last 8 years. He said the state is currently in the best financial and fiscal shape it has ever been in.
“When I walked in the office of January ’04 as the state’s chief financial officer we had $13 million in the Rainy Day Fund. We ended our fiscal year on June 30. We had a full Rainy Day Fund, 10% of inner operating budget, $554 million set aside for a rainy day,” said Reeves.
The state budget is balanced and $350 million more was collected in the fiscal year, than the year before and over $80 million more has been collected in the first there months of this fiscal year than was expected.
“Mississippi is on the rise,” said Reeves.
Reeves said that in order continue to see economic development there must be a fair, flat tax code. He said that is why Republican’s passed the largest tax cut in the state’s history and still were able to collect millions more than anticipated.
He also took several shot at Hood over his history of vilifying corporations. Reeves said Hood would have an impossible time recruiting the same companies to create jobs in Mississippi that he spent the last two decades attacking as Attorney General.
“I urge you as you go to the polls next Tuesday, not only to think about what is best for you but every child in Mississippi,” said Reeves. He said continuing on the path that was started when Republicans took control eight years ago will keep the state in the right direction.
“My friends, conservative policies work. They work not only for you as individuals and job creators, they work for our economy as a whole and they work for every single Mississippian regardless of their political views or affiliation,” said Reeves.