/Hosemann rejects statewide gas tax increase, looks to improve health care, provide teacher, state employee raises

Hosemann rejects statewide gas tax increase, looks to improve health care, provide teacher, state employee raises

The fourth-lowest gasoline tax in the country is Mississippi’s 18.4 cent per gallon. Hosemann said, “I don’t believe it is necessary.” Hosemann spoke out recently at a wide-ranging news conference about the upcoming legislative session. This will be Hosemann’s first term as lieutenant governor. He had previously served three terms as secretary. The session starts Jan. 7. Hosemann stated, “I don’t want to do an statewide gasoline tax. I believe that there will be a local option (gas taxes). That seems like the most conservative option. Hosemann stated that he would push for a referendum to allow counties to decide whether to raise the motor fuel tax (diesel and gasoline) within their borders. This would help pay for road and bridge maintenance. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves was adamantly against a statewide rise in motor fuel taxes during his unsuccessful bid for governor earlier this season. Reeves, the Governor-elect, recently stated in a radio interview that any proposal for a state increase was still opposed by him. Reeves did not mention the local gasoline tax increase. Hosemann supported Reeves’ argument that revenue from the 2018 special session would solve many of the state and local governments’ road and bridge problems. The special session saw the creation of a lottery with $80 million in revenue that was set aside for state infrastructure projects. The Legislature also diverted revenue from state general funds (which is at least $120million annually) and approved grants for road- and bridgework. Many groups continue to push for a gasoline tax hike, claiming that revenue from the special session won’t solve the problem. The Department of Transportation previously stated that an additional $400 million was needed each year to fund road and bridge construction. “While the 2018 special session addressed some immediate needs,” Fix Mississippi Roads, an online coalition of road builders, stated that a long-term sustainable solution must be found. Reeves was also opposed to expanding Medicaid as it is permitted under federal law to cover the working poor. Many other candidates for governor or lieutenant governor supported some type of Medicaid expansion. Hosemann stated that he is interested in expanding Medicaid coverage to the approximately 100,000-200,000 Mississippians who are currently without coverage. Hosemann refused to give details on expanding Medicaid but stated that he believed we could accelerate the delivery of healthcare to those who need it most. It is a multi-billion dollar problem. “A mistake in Mississippi will be disastrous.” Hosemann said Mississippi must learn from the mistakes of other states that expanded Medicaid. The expansion would see the federal government paying 90 percent and the state paying 10 percent. In 37 other states, some form of Medicaid expansion was approved. Hosemann mentioned the possibility of requiring work requirements as well as co-payments to potential beneficiaries in any Mississippi program. Hosemann stated that the issue of affordability and access to health care is being “actively explored daily”. Hosemann also indicated that he will work to provide a teacher raise and a pay rise for state workers in the coming session. Reeves campaigned for a teacher raise. Hosemann stated that he didn’t necessarily want to stop at moving teachers to the Southeaster average over a number of years, as politicians often claim is their goal. He mentioned exceeding the Southeastern average. He said that money is available to pay teachers and state employees raises. This is my priority.”