Many challenges confront our state which must be addressed:
Gov. Tate Reeves’s Re-Election Offers Opportunities For Leadership
Like a stout defensive unit making a goal line stand late in a tense football clash, Gov. Tate Reeves repelled formidable opponent Brandon Presley and national Democrats in winning his second term.
Reeves’ victory strengthened Mississippi Republicans’ hold on the governorship, despite Presley’s aggressive offensive push that saw him spend about $11 million trying to topple the incumbent from atop the state government standings.
The last Democrat to serve as Mississippi’s governor was Ronnie Musgrove, 2000-2004. Republicans Phil Bryant, Haley Barbour and Kirk Fordice were elected before Reeves’ time arrived.
While congratulations are properly in order for Reeves, a Florence native who will turn 50-years-old in June, there should be a short season of celebration for the former banker, who might forgo a vacation due to the many challenges that always confront Mississippi governors.
Reeves presides over a state that trails most all others in practically every economic, education, health care and social ranking.
A national study conducted this year rated Mississippi as the 48th best place to live based on myriad categories like those above —- ahead of only Alaska and Louisiana. Many Mississippians would argue with such a ranking.
Gains have been evidenced in what’s considered among the most important categories —- K-12 public education. Reeves loudly and proudly cited those improvements during the campaign and nationally the state has drawn much praise. Still, there’s major work ahead for him in leading Mississippi toward a better future.
Now that Mr. Reeves will remain the state’s so-called chief executive officer, perhaps it’s time for him to give up the politician label and become the public-servant leader the people expect him to be. After all, he’s had plenty of on-the-job training —- 20 years in office as state treasurer, lieutenant governor and governor.
If he doesn’t turn his full attention on helping every citizen of Mississippi – all ages, all colors, all ethnicities, all education levels, all work stations, all faiths, those of no faith and all sexual persuasions – have a better life, then when he leaves office in January 2028, Mr. Reeves will have failed the voters.
Mr. Reeves’ grievous error of not expanding the federal-state Medicaid healthcare program to include more of our needy citizens is the reason I say this.
By not enlarging Medicaid to include about 200,000 more working poor, disabled and unhealthy Mississippi adults and children, he’s denied them an opportunity to improve their lives medically, physically and mentally.
His decision has cost the state about $5 billion (numbers vary by source) in revenues over four years that could have helped some financially-struggling community hospitals remain viable and keep more people healthy and working.
Medicaid could have been the medical safety net for those citizens and a vibrant revenue stream for our desperate hospitals.
Governors in 41 other states have expanded Medicaid. Many are Republicans like Mr. Reeves. This shouldn’t be a political consideration, although it certainly seems like it along with everything else these days. Can we wait another four years for it?
Mississippi should try the approach taken in Georgia to expand Medicaid, with a work option and a public service requirement or educational/job training as part of the deal. Those possibilities don’t seem particularly onerous.
I don’t know what Reeves considers the top achievements of his first term. I’ve asked, but his staff is silent.
At any rate, Mississippi remains too poor and too unhealthy and too little has been done to change those facts.
May Mr. Reeves tackle the state’s many challenges as viciously as he did Mr. Presley at the general election’s goal line. I offer him best wishes.
---Mac Gordon is a native of McComb. He is a retired newspaperman. He can be reached at email@example.com.