Do you support the findings of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education? Are you committed to funding associated reforms, and if so, how?
Robinson: I do support the Commission’s findings. I would use money from the Education Trust Fund, I voted on the “lockbox” bill that asks voters to approve a constitutional amendment that will establish the lockbox law. This law will ensure that money will not be diverted from the casino funds to balance the budget, but will be used for education. The lock box bill is intended to prevent future governors and lawmakers from diverting casino funds toward balancing the budget. We allocated an additional $200 million in new education funding, using additional tax revenue that residents are expected to pay in state taxes because of changes in the federal tax code.
Is Maryland’s transportation spending appropriately balanced between roads and transit? Does the state have the resources to meet its transportation needs? With the cancellation of the Red Line and the advent of BaltimoreLink, is the Baltimore region adequately served by transit?
Robinson: No Maryland’s transportation spending is not appropriately balanced between roads and transit. The state now has the resources to meet its transportation needs. The governor has allocated an extra $178 million over three years to the state agency that operates the subway. Legislation also passed to require Maryland to award a $167 million annual grant to the Washington Metro but legislation was also included in that grant for MTA to receive added impetus when the Baltimore Metro was forced to shut down for repairs. The Baltimore region is not adequately served by transit. It takes some people three busses to reach their jobs. Often the busses arrive either too late or too early for some employees at certain businesses. With small businesses opening and needing employees, the hindrance is inadequate transportation to those jobs. In the healthcare industry with group homes, transitional living arrangements and other residential facilities for seniors and people with developmental disabilities, they are hurting for employees because of inadequate transportation to those facilities.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Robinson: I support the legalization of recreational marijuana because of the crime associated with territorial gang-wars and young people fighting and getting killed over drug trafficking. I also look at the amount of revenue marijuana can generate. Our schools and transit system can benefit from that extra money. I also look at the blight in our neighborhoods that can certainly prosper from additional funding that can be generated by small businesses in the marijuana industry paying taxes and contributing to the economy and to the neighborhood.
At a time when the federal government’s commitment to Chesapeake Bay restoration is questionable, what new steps should Maryland take to protect this resource?
Robinson: Maryland should make an effort to keep trash and garbage from the Bay. We pay attention to harmful chemicals going into the Bay. We monitor the pesticides used by farmers but we don’t pay enough attention to trash and garbage in the city that rainwater carries into the Bay. Some neighborhoods are riddled with trash and garbage in the streets, especially areas where fast food businesses are located. Maryland needs to invest more money in keeping the streets and vacant lots clean so that sewers will not be a direct route for trash to travel into the Bay.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Robinson: Maryland should ensure that everyone can afford healthcare. Some small businesses that employ people with families cannot afford healthcare alone. However if there was a consortium or a collaboration of small businesses where they could purchase services as a group the cost would be affordable. Additionally if small businesses would belong to a chamber they could offer a low premium for small businesses to purchase services for their employees. Generic drugs as opposed to name-brand drugs would be more affordable to low-income families. I would re-implement the Individual Mandate in the State of Maryland that trump did away with a new senate tax bill. Also, I would tax Health insurance companies within the state a certain percentage, then take that money and use it to help subsidize rising insurance premiums in Maryland.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Robinson: The state should invest more money in the police force thereby being able to employ more police officers as foot-patrol officers to patrol the neighborhoods. The legislation that passed this session is a step in the right direction, stronger laws for repeat offenders, stronger gun laws, more programs for prevention rather than intervention, making the relationship between citizens and the police force more trustworthy by mandating that police officers participate in cultural sensitive training and really implement the legislation SB 1099 and SB 122 from the 2018 session.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Robinson: Maryland’s business climate is growing; however, access to capital is the number one factor that prevents small businesses from succeeding, The state can help foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs by making the certification process easier and making the certification requirements for city, state, and county acceptable. Additionally if the state would implement regulations of local-preferences that would allow Maryland businesses to be considered for projects before out of state businesses.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Robinson: No is does not balance protection for police and the public because with so much corruption reported concerning the police department and with the shootings of citizens by the police there is no trust. The LEOBR should be changed. I was chair of the Legislative Black Caucus when seventeen bills did not leave the Judiciary Department in the House of Delegates. A committee was formed to address that and the LEOBR was addressed during the meetings of that committee. A Civilian Review Board was a part of that discussion. I think we need to revisit the issues raised by the Justice Reinvestment Act.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Robinson: This problem is not new. We had problems with opioid addiction in the 1970s when the young generation who are now grandparents of young people who abuse drugs were themselves opioids. With prescriptions being given for pain and for depression older people are overdosing, I would look for society to provide more programs to educate the young generation about the danger of drugs. I would invest more money into job training and apprenticeship programs to get young people off the streets and to channel their minds to use their creativeness. I would put more money into research to find alternatives to drugs to offset the need for pain pills.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Robinson: The state should ensure that equal pay is provided for equal work. More and more households are being managed by single women. Because they are bread-winners, a sufficient income to take care of their families is important. A person should be paid according to the job and how well the duties and responsibilities are handled not according to gender, race, or age.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Robinson: No, because it does not extend far enough.