Gov.-elect Tate Reeves warns legislative Republicans on gas tax, Medicaid expansion

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Eric J. Shelton/Mississippi Today, Report For AmericaTate Reeves speaks to media after voting during Election Day at Liberty Baptist Church in Flowood, Miss., Tuesday, November 5, 2019.
Republican Gov.-elect Tate Reeves fired a warning shot to legislative Republicans on Tuesday morning who have expressed interest in increasing the state’s fuel tax and expanding Medicaid.
The battle lines drawn this week by Reeves, whose principal campaign strategy involved resisting a gas tax increase and Medicaid expansion, could put him at odds with prominent Republicans in the Legislature, including House and Senate leaders.
Incoming Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann campaigned on giving local governments the option to increase the gasoline tax on a county-by-county basis — a proposal similar to one championed in recent years by Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, that Reeves worked to kill.
“I think the people of Mississippi were overwhelming (in the 2019 election) in their viewpoint that we shouldn’t raise the gas tax,” Reeves said in a radio interview Tuesday morning. “And honestly, any Republican in the Legislature that’s out advocating for the gas tax, I think they are definitely at odds with their constituents.”
Reeves was elected governor in early November, defeating Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood by nearly six points. Hood’s main campaign plank included Medicaid expansion and closely assessing the state’s infrastructure crisis.
Hosemann, the three-term secretary of state who won the lieutenant governor’s seat in November, also campaigned on working to expand Medicaid in the state, going as far as meeting with the architect of Arkansas’ Medicaid expansion plan. Mississippi is one of 14 states in the nation that have not expanded Medicaid.
While Gunn has kept Medicaid expansion at arm’s length during his two terms as the leader of the House, several House Republicans have moved toward expansion in recent months. Former state Rep. Robert Foster, a conservative Republican from Hernando,