2014 Miss. Legislative Session Nearing, Democrats Pushing Education and Medicaid Expansion

JACKSON, Miss. — The 2014 legislative session is less than a week away in Mississippi and Democratic lawmakers have several things their agenda.

House Democratic Caucus Leader Bobby Moak, D-Bogue Chitto, told News Mississippi on Thursday that education has to be number one on the list.

“We’ve got to fund education, ” said Moak. “We haven’t been doing that adequately, and along with that, we have got to pay our teachers well.”

While on the topic of salaries, he said teachers aren’t the only ones in the state that need a raise.

“State employees have also been without a long time for any sort of pay increase,” added Moak. “Those people work for us and it’s a shame we don’t pay a living wage for our folks.”

Lastly, he added that Medicaid expansion would obviously be on the agenda for state Democrats again in 2014.

“Of course, we are not going to forget about healthcare,” said Moak. “Because we think later on this year in October, when the rest of the Affordable Care Act kicks in, it totally changes the way hospitals and medical providers receive funds.”

He said healthcare definitely has to be taken care of in the 2014 session.

“We are losing $3 million per day, because we have not accepted the new form of payments to healthcare providers to hospitals.”

Moak said at the end of the year Mississippi will have lost out of $1 billion.

“We are not going to let folks forget about that.”

There is sure to be strong push back from state Republicans, like Gov. Phil Bryant, who opposed Medicaid expansion in 2013.

Bryant has said the state can’t afford to put 300,000 more Mississippians onto Medicaid, and does not want to be left with the enormous bill if the federal government backs out of future payments to Mississippi.

Moak added he is hopeful Republicans and Democrats can work together on some of the key issues.

“I was very pleased to see where House Speaker Philip Gunn came out and said he was for a teacher pay raise,” he said. “That’s a step in the right direction.”

If the teacher pay raise issue can be accomplished, Moak said the two parties can then try and discuss some of the other issues.

“It needs to be a sit down and talk about the issues, to see what is best for folks here in the state of Mississippi.”