Debate in 2 Minutes: Gas tax, women, teacher pay take center stage

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — The top GOP republican candidates took the stage and answered questions from a WJTV 12 panel of journalists Tuesday night. One of the first questions to the candidates came after Mississippi Today reporter Larrison Campbell wasn’t allowed to shadow Robert Foster because she didn’t have a male colleague with her.

Campbell previously called the move sexist while Foster said it was because of his faith.

Question: “How will you seek to insure that women will be included among your administration including whether they will
be considered for top roles?”

“A vow that I’ve made to my wife to not be alone with a member of the opposite sex is not going to inhibit my ability to serve as
governor in any way I’ve done it my professional career,” said Foster.

“I teach adjunct professor at the University of Mississippi they have a requirement you take a course that you always have an open door
policy that you always have an atmosphere that is not threatening that you don’t place yourself in a compromising (position).” said Bill Waller.

“You can just look to my last 16 years in public office and it confirmation my deputy state treasurer when I was state treasurer was
a female and it was Liz Welch who’s one of the most respected members of government in all of state government,” said Tate Reeves

The candidates also faced off on questions about the gas tax. Foster says he doesn’t support raising it without fully restructuring a system that works for everyone. Waller says he wants to raise it by 3 to 4 percent.
Reeves remains opposed.

All three candidates disagree with expanding the use of medical marijuana.

Another heated debate is teacher pay. Both Waller and Foster said teachers need to have a starting pay of $40,000. Waller wants to get a start on it before next year’s legislative session.

“It’s got to be around the $40,000 mark right now,” said Foster.

“Right now the crisis is teachers, and we need to support that,” said Waller. “We need to get the pay in line and fill those classrooms.”

“That’s about a $275-million expense we would have to put in there next year,” said Reeves. “We need to be realistic about the numbers and make sure we can do things within the confines of our budget.”

Candidates also don’t see eye to eye on raising the minimum wage.

In fact, Reeves doesn’t believe in a state minimum wage. Foster says there shouldn’t be a minimum wage at all, and Waller says there just needs to be federal minimum wage.

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