Democracy depends on educated votes, part 4
David Nevins is co-publisher of The Fulcrum and co-founder and board chairman of the Bridge Alliance Education Fund.
Democracy depends on educated voters. Yet too often people don’t vote because they don’t know where candidates stand on various issues and are confused about how to find out. The widespread political cynicism, disinformation, and spin that citizens are bombarded with contributes to the lack of information available to voters so they can make reasoned decisions.
To combat this problem a non-partisan group called guides.vote has created voter guides to provide a concise and credible way to compare where candidates stand on critical issues and to make clear why voting matters.
Earlier this week, we focused on the Virginia legislature races, the Kentucky governor’s race, and Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court race. Today, we focus on Mississippi's race for governor between Democrat Brandon Presley and Republican Tate Reeves.
Ban or legal?
Ban. “There should be exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother. I believe being pro-life, as I am, means more than just the abortion issue; it means being pro-hospital, pro-emergency-room, pro-doctor, pro-Medicaid expansion.”
Ban when heartbeat is detected (six weeks), with no exceptions except for medical emergencies. “I believe that life begins at conception.” Won’t “rest until every unborn child has the chance to experience the God-given right to life.” Would ensure that “those babies, once born, have a productive life.” Wouldn’t say if he would ban IUDs or Plan B pills.
Yes. Supported a program to incentivize the growth of solar energy in schools and residential areas, “a source that is not dependent upon international energy markets.”
No. Opposed the program to incentivize the growth of solar energy, calling it “a bad deal.” Opposed an SEC rule compelling publicly traded companies to disclose their climate-related risks. Signed bill restricting in-person electric-car sales.
How to ensure effectiveness and fairness in law enforcement?
Would “fund the police.” Seeks “meaningful, thoughtful reform to police training and standards” to make police forces stronger. Opposes expanding the authority of the state police in Jackson and having Jackson judges appointed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court instead of through local elections. Seeks “collaboration with local officials” to address crime in and around Jackson.
“We choose to fund the police. We choose to back the blue.” Signed bills bringing much of Jackson under the jurisdiction of the state-run Capitol Police and mandating state appointment of judges and prosecutors in Jackson, instead of through local elections.
No. “Taxpayer dollars should go to public schools.” Private school voucher programs are “justifying diverting funding from our public schools.”
How to examine issues around racism in the classroom and the community?
“There is no way to ever deal with the issues of race without facing them…. We must confront ourselves and our beliefs…, especially on the issues of race.” “We've taken an important step to keep Emmett (Till's) memory alive, but there's more we have to do to fight for civil rights and equality here in Mississippi.”
“There is not systemic racism in America.” Declared Confederate Heritage Month using a Sons of Confederate Veterans Facebook page, saying “We can all learn from our history.” Signed a bill to limit how race can be discussed in public schools. Proposed a $3 million “Patriotic Education Fund” to focus on “the exceptional achievements of this country.”
Increase funding for K-12 education?
Yes. “We must fully fund public education.” “We owe it to our local school boards and our local schools to have a constant stream of funds that is predictable. We owe it to the taxpayers.” “Inflation is eating up the cost of a pay raise – and we need to make sure that teacher salaries keep up with the price of inflation so we can recruit and retain educators.”
Mixed. Vetoed a bill in 2020 to shift funds from a teacher incentive program in order to fund teacher salaries statewide. Signed the largest teacher pay raise in state history in 2022. Criticized a 2023 plan to fully fund the state’s public education.
How to restore Mississippians ability to place citizen ballot initiatives?
Would “lead the effort to restore the ballot initiative process.” After the state Supreme Court ended it, he called the legislature’s failure to restore it “a huge setback for the right to vote.”
“Citizens should have access to the ballot, and it ought to be done in a way where it’s challenging to get on the ballot but that it is possible.”
Support expansion of Medicaid?
Yes. “Mississippi faces a healthcare crisis.” Expand “Medicaid to 220,000 working folks.” Mississippi can keep rural hospitals open by expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. “By not expanding Medicaid, we’re holding back 16,000 health care jobs.”
No. Opposes expanding Medicaid, which he sees as “socialized medicine.” “I’m opposed to Obamacare expansion in Mississippi.” Would address health care shortages by encouraging “competition in the healthcare area” and “innovative free market solutions that disrupt traditional healthcare delivery models.”
On Jackson’s water, wants “the state (to) work together…with the city of Jackson” as a “major public works project” to fix “the water issue.” Would use federal money to build the infrastructure to expand high-speed internet service across the state.
Vetoed unanimous 2020 legislation passed to improve Jackson’s water-billing system and solidify the city’s water revenues. As state treasurer, blocked and delayed bond funding for Jackson water improvements. In 2022 declared a state of emergency to repair Jackson’s water system. Proposes a $1.3 billion infrastructure plan, mostly for road repairs and upgrades.
Make it easier or harder for unions to organize?
Likely harder. When asked about a lack of a union role in the official COVID recovery, said, “We don’t need union bosses to tell us how to take care of our people.”
Mixed. Would not have signed a bill outlawing gender-affirming care for transgender minors such as puberty blockers. “I trust mamas and I trust daddies to deal with the health care of their children first and foremost.” Later he said new restrictions are “settled in Mississippi,” so would not work to reverse them.
Limit. Signed a bill banning gender-affirming care for minors. Signed a bill banning transgender athletes from competing on girls or women’s sports teams. Supported a Supreme Court decision allowing a woman creating wedding websites to refuse service for same sex weddings.
Ban or legal?
Legal on medical. Opposed the Tennessee Valley Authority decision to block local utility companies from providing power to medical cannabis facilities. No position found on recreational marijuana.
Mixed. Signed medical cannabis legalization with reservations. Recreational legalization could lead to “more people smoking and less people working, with all of the societal and family ills that that brings.”
MISSISSIPPI WELFARE FRAUD SCANDAL
Response to Mississippi’s misuse of more than $77 million in federal welfare funds?
Is seeking to recover the stolen funds. Fired the state’s investigator into the case, a former U.S. attorney, as too much “focused on the political side of things.” As Lt. Governor, had authority over the state budget during the misuse.
STUDENT FINANCIAL AID
Support lower interest on student loans or forgiving them?
Yes, at least partly. “We need to…expand access to Mississippi’s teacher loan repayment programs.”
How to handle state taxation?
Tighten or ease voting rules?
Ease. “Voting is as much a privilege as a right. Thanks to… those who fought in the struggle to expand those rights to everyone.” On ex-felons voting, “it’s important for nonviolent offenders to have a chance for their voting rights to be restored.”
Tighten. Signed a bill setting tighter restrictions on who can gather and deliver other people’s absentee ballots. “I will also do everything in my power to make sure universal mail-in voting and no-excuse early voting are not allowed in MS.”