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Rep. Candidates for Gov. Debate Ahead of Runoff

Rep. Candidates for Gov. Debate Ahead of Runoff
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Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Former Chief Justice Bill Waller
Courtesy: AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Mississippi's two GOP candidates for Governor go head to head in their only debate ahead of next week's primary runoff. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.

Republican Lt. Governor Tate Reeves says he's the only candidate for governor opposed to expanding Medicaid. He referred to Louisiana, where a Democratic governor expanded the healthcare program.

"Somewhere between 3 and 5,000 Louisiana residents are being moved every single month, that's between 40 and 60,000 Louisiana residents are being moved from private insurance onto government healthcare. That's a bad solution," said Reeves.

Former State Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller likes a Medicaid expansion plan used by Vice President Mike Pence when he was governor of Indiana.

"Brookings Institute already studied it. It's good for the citizens. It lowers the cost of healthcare. It would be a billion dollars a year to our 115 hospitals over 60,000 employees at no taxpayer expense," said Waller.

On infrastructure, Waller would eliminate the 4 percent state income tax and increase the gas tax. Reeves likes ending the income tax but not a gas tax hike. He wants to upgrade workforce development.

"It's the reason that I've proposed a $100 million dollar investment in workforce training. If we're going to see continued economic growth in Mississippi, it is critical that we train and retrain our workforce," said Reeves.

Waller says the state's population is declining and one solution is increasing teacher pay.

"My plan is to get the experts together at the end of the year and figure out what we can provide for the teachers and I'm going to ask the legislature to appropriate that in February," said Waller.

Reeves agrees with an increase and says teachers have received $8,000 dollars more since he became Lt. Governor. Waller and Reeves both say long wait times at the state's department of motor vehicles must be addressed. The Republican Primary Runoff Debate aired last night at WJTV ahead of Tuesday's election.