Gubernatorial candidates debate for second time

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Mississippi voters are less than a month away from electing the state’s next governor. Political parties aside, both candidates agree teacher pay is one of the top priorities.

Jim Hood said it’s not just about a pay raise, but putting more money towards education.

“It’s about 4k education. That’s $33 million a year we can do to help our kids. It’s an 18 year investment. It’s the best bang for our buck that we can spend on early childhood education,” said Hood.

Reeves education plan involves a $4,300 pay increase over the next four years to reach the average of the southeastern states. Reeves says the state, from an education stand point is heading in the right direction.

“We’re increasing teacher pay. We’re increasing student outcomes on student graduation rates.3,000 more kids per year are graduating from high school than would have graduated just eight years ago,” said Reeves.

But how to do we keep those students here after graduation? You’ve heard the term brain drain. More people are moving out of the state. According to Jim Hood, Mississippi’s rate of growth is 2%. The way to fix it the candidates say is to create better paying jobs. Jim hood wants to cut pack on college tuition costs.

“We’ve got to cut the community college tuition so our kids can go tuition free. We want to put them on a tech skill track, so they can get good paying jobs and businesses move in here to our area,” said Hood.

The way that happens Reeves says is by raising taxes which he’s against.

“We have a $6 billion general fund spending. $941 million in new spending will be approximately 15% of that. There’s no way to fund all the new programs that Hood has proposed without raising taxes,” said Reeves.

Healthcare is another crisis both candidates addressed. In rural Mississippi, there are a lack of medical professionals. Reeves is vocal about being against what he calls Obamacare expansion.

“We need more doctors. We need more nurses. We need more nurse practitioners. That’s the reason we invested in a 68 million dollars of new medical school on the campus of UMC.

Reeves says students who do residencies here might be more apt to stay in the state. Hood wants to expand.

“It’s worked in 36 other states. Mike Pence the Vice President of Trump did it in Indiana. It’s working. Those that have expanded have used the hospital money to leverage so it’s working in other states. This isn’t some liberal idea,” said Hood.

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