Robinson: Running on conservative record
The Star: If these people weren't on the Medicaid rolls and they needed help but they weren't aware of it, aren't they entitled to it?
Robinson: Well, but I mean, we're going to bankrupt the state.
The Star: What's your suggestion for an alternative because there is a high level of poverty in Mississippi?
Robinson: Let's give them the basic health care. They are getting better health care probably than you are getting here at this newspaper under your health insurance. I'd be willing to go that far. They are getting eyeglasses probably, dental probably and they are getting Viagra. Some of them pay some and some of them don't. It is unreal.
The Star: You're saying that's too generous?
Robinson: Exactly. We just need to provide basic health care.
The Star: What do you consider basic health care?
Robinson: You know, if you have something that is life-threatening or some illness that needs to be treated. I wouldn't say chapped lips is worthy. I mean if you've got the flu, you need medical attention. But if you've got a cold, you can go down to the drugstore and buy some Alka-Seltzer Plus. Don't ask the government to buy it for you.
The Star: What is your suggestion for trying to help the poverty level?
Robinson: They need to get a job.
The Star: What if there aren't any jobs?
Robinson: They just need to do the best they can, I guess, until jobs come along.
The Star: What is your solution to getting jobs in Mississippi?
Robinson: I'm real excited about this pact that the governors of Alabama and Mississippi have signed for East Mississippi and West Alabama. That will be really meaningful for our area.
The Star: How will that create jobs to get people off welfare?
Robinson: By putting some sort of government pact together, hopefully you could put some sort of infrastructure in place. For instance, this industrial park, that's the governments place. Good highways, sewer, water.
I see the military as the thing of the future. With this terrorism threat, we ought to be able to get something for the military here in this area. That's what I'm talking about. Some kind of manufacturing jobs and building something for the military. It could be a terminal or warehouse.
The Star: Where are you going to find the money for that infrastructure if you say there is too much spending?
Robinson: I look at spending money to do that differently than I do giving it away. I look at that as an investment in our future.
The Star: Does Mississippi have that kind of money?
Robinson: Sure. We put nearly $400 million in the Nissan plant. We'd bond that in a heartbeat.
The Star: Is there move afoot in the next legislative session to come forward with some type of bonding package specifically with this pact with East Mississippi and West Alabama?
Robinson: It's my understanding we did that already or Musgrove wouldn't have been able to sign the pact. The legislation was already in place to do this with our surrounding neighbors or he couldn't have done it.
But, specifically, no. But they won't tell us anything. They give them code names. I voted to spend $392 million for Nissan and hardly knew anything about it. We didn't know it was Nissan until after we voted.
The Star: Tell us your thoughts on funding education first and are you going to support that again?
Robinson: I probably would not agree to do that again. That's not the only agency that we deal with, we've got many issues to deal with … money is not the problem with education.
The Star: What is the problem with education?
Robinson: There are three or four problems with education. No. 1 is parents, lack of parenting. Another big problem is we are top-heavy in administration and most of our teachers are telling me that they can't teach because of all the … paperwork and going to seminars and going to classes. They can't teach because of the bureaucracy. It's not money.
The Star: Do you agree that a strong educational system is one major factor in attracting industry to this area?
Robinson: Yes, I do and we are working on it. I think we are doing a real good job with what we have to work with. We are the poorest state in the union.