JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Party politics usually play out with polar opposite agendas for Republicans and Democrats each session. But Democrats say they’re seeing new traction from the GOP on issues they’ve championed.
“Whatever it is, I’ll accept it," said Representative David Baria. "As long as they’re willing to work together on issues that will improve Mississippians lives, then they’re going to find a willing partner in me and legislative Democrats.”
They will have six priorities this year: public education, health care, infrastructure, economic justice, criminal justice reforms and election reforms. In the way of health care, they’ll again file bills related to Medicaid expansion.
“For some reason, in 2019, we hear the Governor’s considering expanding Medicaid or some proposal that would include expanding Medicaid," noted Senator Derrick Simmons. "Legislative Democrats have fought for that since 2011 and we will continue to fight for that.”
Governor Bryant’s office has not yet responded to our requests for comment about his position on Medicaid expansion. You saw lawmakers boost infrastructure funding in the 2018 special session, and some leaders have said they don’t expect more this session.
“That’s unfortunate because what we did was simply a band-aid on a wound that needs surgical intervention," noted Baria. "We know that it costs over $400 million a year just to maintain the roads and bridges that we currently have. And the revenue that we think we’ve raised through the special session is about $200 million a year, and that’s insufficient on its face.”
While there are early bi-partisan issues, the caucus says much will depend on the details. For example, they don’t just want a teacher pay raise but want the salary raised to the Southeastern average.