Plenty of challenges facing new governor

Published 8:47 pm Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Gov. Tate Reeves pledged Tuesday to work for all Mississippians. He also said he would defend a “loving culture that underpins our quality of life.”

Looking on when Reeves made his inauguration speech were several locals, including family members from Bogue Chitto who are no doubt proud of the former lieutenant governor.

Reeves’ election was a clear signal from voters that they are satisfied with the direction Mississippi is heading. Reeves will likely govern similarly to his predecessor.

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Reeves and former Gov. Phil Bryant have both championed tax cuts and reduced state budgets. He inherits plenty of positives from Bryant, but also a few challenges—  most recently the problems plaguing the prison system.

For those who voted for Jim Hood, there were bright spots in Reeves’ inauguration. For starters, Reeves pledged to further increase teacher pay.

“I am committed to elevating our public schools,” Reeves said. “That means a pay raise for every teacher — and a new mission to give us more national board certified teachers per capita than any state in the nation. You will note that I did not say more than anyone in the Mid-South. I didn’t say number one in the Southeast. I said No. 1 in the nation.”

The Republican’s focus on teacher pay was sharpened by Hood — and Reeves’ primary challengers. Lawmakers approved a marginal increase in pay while Reeves led the Senate.

Reeves also committed to cleaning up the prison system, which has seen a rash of violence recently. He didn’t say how he would do that, but it will no doubt require more funding. Reeves had a prominent role in setting state budgets as lieutenant governor, and lawmakers are recommending another budget cut for the department this year.

It remains to be seen if Reeves will encourage lawmakers to spend more “to provide for the safety of our citizens and the human dignity of all within the system,” as he put it.

On one of the biggest issues of the gubernatorial election, it is doubtful Reeves will budge. He has been clear that he is opposed to any form of Medicaid expansion. Hood — and Reeves’ primary challengers — all favored some sort of expansion to cover more working poor.

We hope Reeves will reconsider that position, and we hope he will stand by the words given in his speech Tuesday. Mississippi is a great state, but one with plenty of challenges. Reeves and Company — all eight statewide offices are held by Republicans — have no excuses if they can’t make this great state better.