Democratic chairman pushes ‘pocketbook issues’ in visit

Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman Rickey Cole visited The Daily Leader Thursday afternoon on a swing through the state, proposing a “new direction” for Mississippi politics and laying down policy points of Democrats ahead of the 2014, 2015 and 2016 elections.

In a meeting with the newspaper’s editorial board, Cole presented four “pocketbook issues” that the Democrats intend to focus on in elections during this and coming years. The points include raising the minimum wage, extending health care coverage, investing in public education and supporting equal pay for equal work.

Rickey Cole

Cole also encouraged a change in tone and return to civility among candidates this year.

“Politics has always been a contact sport. And to continue with that sports analogy, we are fouling too much. State politics is mirroring the national level, and I am disappointed in the direction we are headed,” Cole said.

“I’m hopeful that we can get back to the business at hand, without all the name-calling and negativity.”

Raise the Minimum Wage

The first item on Cole’s list is the minimum wage. Cole and other Democrats are in favor of raising the wage to coincide with cost of living increases.

“No one should have to work over 40 hours to get by. What’s relevant is making a living and maintaining a good quality of life,” Cole said.

An increase in minimum wage would benefit the economy as well, according to Cole.

“These are employees that are most likely to spend their money at local stores, putting it right back into the economy,” he said. “Raising the minimum wage will expand the city’s consumer base.”

Extend Health Care Coverage

One of the more fateful decisions that the Mississippi Legislature has made in recent months is the decision to not expand Medicaid, Cole said.

“The expansion of Medicaid would have brought in billions of federal dollars,” the party chairman said. “Most politicians I know – from both sides of the aisle – would accept that money.”

Cole said the state was losing $3 million a day in lost federal funding. He also suggested that Natchez Regional Medical Center, which requested Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection earlier this year, was just one of the hospitals crippled by the Medicaid decision.

“There is not one hospital CEO or administrator that argues not to expand Medicaid. They know it will effect severely their bottom line,” said Cole.

Invest in Quality Education

Democrats plan to support legislation to fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, as well as teacher pay raises, Cole said.

“Investing in public education is the best crime prevention and best jobs program around,” he said.

Equal Pay for Equal Work

Currently, women in Mississippi receive only 75.6 cents for work that a man would receive a dollar to do, according to Cole. “This is morally indefensible, and Mississippi Democrats are fighting to ensure equal pay for equal work. Women should not be at a competitive disadvantage for doing the same job that a man does,” he said.

Cole also unveiled party plans for District 53 Rep. Bobby Moak of Bogue Chitto, provided the Democrats gain a House majority after the elections. Rep. Moak is slated to be the Speaker of the House, said Cole. “Bobby is the smartest man in the legislature. It’s a no-brainer to make him House Speaker if we get the seats.”

Other policies the party stands behind include the creation of a state-level department of labor, lifetime medical services for veterans, qualified citizenship of undocumented immigrants, the ability to recall elected officials, opposition to redefining personhood and a rejection of the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, according to the 2012 Democratic Party Platform.

In the months leading up to the June elections, The Daily Leader will be talking with representatives from all parties to get their plans for more effective and efficient government.

News

Ribbon Cutting: New bridge finally opened

Business

Brookhaven’s Murphy named First Bank Market President

News

Active shooter drill underway in Brookhaven

News

Volunteers firefighters complete training class

News

Police drill, training for active shooter Friday morning at Lincoln Residential

News

Court documents reveal details of deer trading conspiracy ahead of final sentencing

Breaking News

Officers capture shooting suspect after nearly four hours of searching

Breaking News

Active manhunt for suspect who shot at officers

News

Watch: Additional units respond to manhunt in Brookhaven

News

Update: Law enforcement searching for man involved in Brookhaven shooting

News

Research raises questions of human health risk with Chronic Wasting Disease

News

Brookhaven electric upgrades may be source of flickering power

News

Body found in Pearl River may be missing Belhaven man

News

Turkey baiting case is silent

Crime Reports

Lincoln County Jail docket: 2 charged with DUI first offense by MHP

News

Brookhaven City Board approves raises for two directors, police patrol officers

News

City approves water service extension ahead of I-14 construction

News

Lincoln County pair named Lindy Callahan Scholar Athletes

News

Lincoln County spared of tornadoes in last week’s storm

News

Hyde-Smith seeks to enroll at-risk rural hospitals in demonstration program to stave off closures

News

Ledger continues to fight

Crime Reports

Lincoln County Jail docket: Brookhaven man gets 3rd domestic violence charge

News

North Jackson Street to reopen to thru-traffic

News

Brookhaven Little Theatre will put on beautiful, magical ‘Cinderella’ performance