- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—TUPELO — Both incumbent state Sen. Nancy Collins of Tupelo and challenger, Guntown Alderman Chad McMahan, tout their conservative values as they battle for votes in the Aug. 4 Republican primary.

The winner of the primary will not face opposition in November.

“I enjoy my job, and I have a wonderful career,” said McMahan, a sales director with a packaging supplies company. “I entered politics with reluctance. I decided to get involved because of all of the foolishness I see taking place in our state capital.

“There appears to be too much government, too many regulations, too much interference in our daily lives. I know I’m just one person, but I intend to promote liberty, personal freedom and the idea of limited government at every opportunity.”

Collins, who has worked as both a registered nurse and speech therapist and was key in the development of the Sanctuary Hospice House in Lee County, touts her work during the past term passing legislation to allow a limited number of special needs children to receive public funds to pursue private education options and to enact a ban on abortions after 20 weeks.

She also touts her work as chair of the Accountability, Efficiency and Transparency Committee to try to curb government waste. She points to a ban on agencies adding to their vehicle fleets as an example of her work.

“Given another term, I will continue to fight for responsible spending of tax dollars and conservative ideas to strengthen families — especially in the area of education,” said Collins, who was first elected to the Senate in a 2010 special election.

Both tout their support of public education. Both said they support full funding of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, which provides most of state’s share of the basics to operate local school systems and has been underfund $1.7 billion since 2008.

Collins has been part of the Senate leadership team that has rejected efforts in recent years to increase education funding, saying the state could not afford it.

“I support fully funding MAEP and having accountability in every area of the MAEP formula. This includes demanding positive outcomes for our children,” she said. “…As revenue has grown, money has been invested in K-12, community colleges and universities. We need to support and improve all of our education institutions in a financially sound way.”

McMahan said he has met with teachers, administrators and staff from the Tupelo, Lee County and Baldwyn school systems and believes he understands their needs.

“I support public education,” he said.”I believe we should attempt to make every resource available to our educators to help them provide a high-quality, result-oriented, performance-driven curriculum so we can empower our young people with the skills necessary to have a high standard of living for their families and compete in the global economy.”

Collins has remained opposed to expanding Medicaid as is allowed under federal law to provide health care coverage to primarily the working poor.

“Every dollar that goes to expanding Medicaid is one that can’t go to public schools or improving roads and bridges,” Collins said. “As a registered nurse, I will continue to look for ways to improve Mississippi’s many health care needs.”

McMahan said he wants to study the issue more, saying he is concerned the federal dollars for the Medicaid expansion will not remain consistent, though, they are supposed to.

But he said the extra dollars would increase access, which he supports, and provide additional funds for struggling Mississippi hospitals, which are being burdened by having to treat people with no insurance and no ability to pay.

“I am considering both sides of the issue and would like to review all of the information and discuss this further with healthcare professionals and citizens to see how it will impact the healthcare systems and access to healthcare for Mississippians,” he said.

McMahan said he would support eliminating the state income tax and replacing it with a consumption tax where people would pay more taxes based on there use of various items. Critics say such taxes are regressive, placing an extra burden on the poor.

Collins touted her vote this past session to reduce the income tax and to provide large business tax breaks that advocates say were needed to make Mississippi’s tax structure competitive with surrounding states. The tax cuts were blocked by Democrats who said the state should not be reducing revenue when education is not fully funded.

In the upcoming sessions, Collins said, “I will support a tax cut proposal that makes the tax code more simple, more fair and grows our economy.”

District 6 consists of the vast majority of Lee County and a portion of western Itawamba County.

[email protected]

Twitter: @BobbyHarrison9

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(c)2015 the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo, Miss.)

Visit the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo, Miss.) at www.djournal.com

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