Lt. Governor Tate Reeves and Bill Waller Jr. debated in roundtable format on WJTV prior to the August 27 runoff election that will determine which of these individuals will represent the Republican Party on the Gubernatorial ticket in November.
The debate focused on numerous issues that the candidates disagree on and a few that they do see eye to eye about. Both candidates discussed their policy positions on Medicaid right out of the gate.
Reeves has held fast that he does not agree with any type of Medicaid expansion, saying that any type of expansion of Obamacare is not good for Mississippians. Reeves said he doesn’t believe adding $300K to the Medicaid roll would be beneficial. He used Louisiana as an example. He said it would be a roughly 40,000 users per year moving from private insurance to the Medicaid rolls.
Waller continued to promote his plan to expand Medicaid like it was done by current Vice President Mike Pence when he was Governor of Indiana. While Reeves has pointed out Waller’s desire to expand Medicaid as a non-conservative opinion, Waller uses Pence as an example of a true conservative who saw the need for some expansion to benefit the state.
Waller shared thoughts of how to address infrastructure issues by doing a tax swap and getting rid of the 4% tax bracket in Mississippi. He also agrees with an increase in gas tax, by up to 12%.
Reeves is staunchly against any kind of tax increase and said it would hurt the average Mississippi taxpayer. When asked about whether or not they would consider toll roads, both candidates said they would like to see all options on the table before ruling anything like that out.
The question of the night was about at the 18:00 mark asking candidates to define “true conservatism”. It was a question that neither candidate had been asked to answer in those terms. Reeves stated a pretty traditional answer that highlighted fewer taxes and smaller government.
Waller took the approach the conservative governance meant initiating new spending and programs to tackle issues such as infrastructure and healthcare.
Both candidates had suggestions to reform the DMV situation. Reeves suggested allowing for constituents to schedule appointments with the DMV to cut own on wait times.
While Waller didn’t offer a direct solution, he promised that if election governor he would cut wait times down to no more than 30 minutes.
Neither candidate made any personal attacks toward the other in their closing statements. Reeves focused on both men being good people and simply disagreeing on the policies that will move the state forward. Waller said he believes he is the conservative that can win in November.