Political experience: Lieutenant governor (2012 to present, two terms); state treasurer (2004-2012, two terms)
Education: Millsaps College (bachelor’s degree in economics)
William “Bill” Waller Jr.
Political experience: Mississippi Supreme Court Justice (1998-2019, chief justice of the court from 2009 to 2019)
Education: Mississippi State University (bachelor’s degree in political science); University of Mississippi School of Law (juris doctor degree)
Opposes any form of Medicaid expansion: “I believe very strongly that if Obamcare is the answer, then you are asking the wrong question … We’ve got to work on improving the qualify of healthcare and the accessibility of healthcare throughout Mississippi. The way to do that is not through more government programs but through more opportunities for our people. More and better paying jobs and more and higher paying jobs.”
Supports a partial version of Medicaid expansion: “We’ve got a crisis in our state. We’ve got 31 rural hospitals on the danger list of closing … you’ve got to have a hospital close by. No industry is going to locate if you don’t have a good hospital … I predict, we would actually increase the participation in our workforce and reduce those on Medicaid … the payment for this would come through the participants, they have skin in the game … there are plenty of metrics on this. It works.”
Mental health care policy
“More home and community-based care would be a good starting point. It will take more funding too. Everyone’s needs are unique, so it is impossible to have one blanket approach. I do think, generally, we need to move from an institutional care focus to a community care focus.”
“Mental health is a state obligation, and we have to fund it adequately. We have to find resources to support our regional centers. I intend to give all the attention we need to make sure that we have adequate resources to support mental health. And of course that goes into the drug and alcohol addiction problems that we have to. I’m familiar with working with that in the drug court, and I intend to provide whatever resources we need to tackle that problem to make sure that everyone in Mississippi can have a safe and product life.”
“During the last eight years, we have seen teacher pay increases. If you were a teacher the year I ran for lieutenant governor, next year you will make $8,000 more per year than you did eight years ago … The fact is, we do not pay our teachers enough. And we don’t pay them nearly enough. We need to continue to increase teacher pay … The best way to have a quality teacher in every classroom is to spend more money in the classroom and less money in the district office.”
“I think $40,000 is achievable (as starting teacher pay). I think we can do it in the next legislative session. My pledge is we’re going to have a teacher pay raise every year until we get to the Southeastern average … The truth is, we’ve got a crisis. We’ve got over 1,000 teacher vacancies that we couldn’t fill … We’ve got to find incentives for teachers.”
“A three- to four-cent increase in the gas tax is a $60 to $80 million tax increase on hardworking Mississippi families. I am the only candidate, I think the only candidate of either party, that is opposed to raising the gas tax.”
The program of user fees, people using roads pay for it, is as democratic as anything … Ronald Reagan said user fees are the fairest tax device there is … What I want to do … is a tax swap … I propose taking the four percent income tax bracket out. I think this would mollify the effects. I think this would allow us to have the money right now right now to repair the roads.
Wants to continue efforts to recruit business relocation to state: “We’ve got to continue to focus our efforts on economic development, bringing better and higher paying jobs to our state. We certainly want to keep more and more of our most talented people … We’ve got to continue to have economic policies in place that lead to job creation so that we can keep 100 percent of our best and our brightest.”
Wants to focus on infrastructure to boost state economy while also paying teachers more to improve education system while also encouraging more partnerships between high schools and community colleges: “I think (brain drain) is a big problem. My response to that would be … I think all of it works together. The education part, we’re trying to find a way to get the community colleges to drill down into workforce development … We’ve got to get the community colleges and high schools working together.”