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Robinson: Running on conservative record

By By Georgia E. Frye / staff writer
July 20, 2003
Republican Eric Robinson has been a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives since 1993. He represents District 84 which underwent significant changes when district lines were redrawn.
It now includes the western part of Lauderdale County, the southeastern tip of Newton County, the northeastern tip of Jasper County and most of Clarke County.
Robinson sat down with The Meridian Star's editorial board recently to discuss his views on Medicaid, education and economic development in East Mississippi.
The Meridian Star: Tell us how the campaign is going.
Eric Robinson: I've been real busy. As of late, I've been doing what most candidates despise, I've been trying to raise money. Now I'm on the ground seeing the people. I plan to do some targeted mail-outs and I'm already doing radio and newspaper and it will intensify as the election draws near.
The Star: How much does it cost to run a campaign, especially in a newly redrawn district?
Robinson: I think I usually spend about $12,000 and this time it could run $15,000 to $20,000. One reason is I have so much new territory I'm just not sure, it's untested water. I'm not sure how they're going to vote and you don't want to take any chances. So we're going to use the money to get our message out.
The Star: You've been in the Legislature for three terms and you're dealing with a lot of new people who don't know you. What do you tell them about yourself and why you should be re-elected to the House? What qualities are you touting about yourself?
Robinson: Honestly, it's hard for me to run into somebody who doesn't know me or who hasn't heard of me. If they don't, I tell them I have been in the Legislature three terms.
I try to use that as a plus because when you are first elected you're considered a freshman and they don't offer any courses to teach you how to become a successful legislator. You just learn it by experience and being on the job. You have to build relationships and I think I have been successful in doing that.
This will be my fourth term and there is a good bit of seniority and that can be a big plus for our area and I do use that campaigning. I tell people they have invested that in me and they should let me use that to help our area to do some good.
The Star: House and Senate leaders are saying the budget is in the worst shape it has ever been in and, come next year, we are going to have to consider taxes. What are your thoughts on that?.
Robinson: You know, state government might raise taxes, but it won't be with my vote. I conceivably might would vote to raise gambling and some kind of liquor taxes, but that would be the only kind of taxes I would vote to raise.
But I would not even consider voting to raise taxes. I'm looking to cut the fat out of government … Me and my conservative colleagues, we could craft the spending budget much less than what we're looking at now. We don't have a revenue problem in our state, we have a spending problem.
The Star: What are we spending too much on?
Robinson: For instance, we are spending too much on Medicaid. We increased the percentage of the poverty level and eligibility. Everybody thinks Medicaid is a cash cow …
When our governor first got elected, we had this Children's Health Insurance Program that we used the tobacco settlement money for and no children were signing up. So he goes out to the schools and everywhere else and he puts out a reward, a bounty. He said, Find me some children to go on the CHIPS program.'
These teachers, of course, they wanted that reward and they found these kids, but guess what? Behind every child, they found a family that qualified for Medicaid and our Medicaid rose and expanded like nobody's business and it's about to bankrupt the state. That's one reason we're in the financial condition we're in.