Preserving economic development programs in a very tight state budget will be one priority this year.
By HAROLD GWIN
VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU
HERMITAGE, Pa. -- State Sen. Robert Robbins believes there are three basic principles to being a good legislator: listening to people, keeping your word and working to find solutions to problems.
That's been his credo during his 20 years in public life and he pledged Thursday to follow it again as he seeks a fourth term in the state Senate.
Out and about: Robbins, 57, of Greenville, R-50th, was on the campaign trail all day, leading a bus tour across the 50th District -- which covers Crawford and Mercer counties and parts of Lawrence and Butler counties -- to announce his re-election bid.
His last stop of the day was the Hermitage Municipal Building, where he pledged to continue to make the area more attractive to new businesses, ensure that traditional industries of manufacturing, agriculture and tourism remain part of the economic future, improve the quality of education, work for more consistent state support for such community services as fire companies, police departments and rescue squads and enhance programs to ensure quality of life for senior citizens.
"He's a man of the people, serving the people," said the Rev. Donald Wilson, pastor of Lebanon United Presbyterian Church, who introduced Robbins to a group of about 40 people gathered to hear his announcement.
Robbins, who served eight years as a state representative before being elected to the Senate, said he's been part of the effort that has cut state taxes eight years in a row, built a state Rainy Day Fund into a $1.2 billion reserve and controlled state spending.
For the first time since World War II, Pennsylvania hasn't had to raise taxes during a recession, he said.
Making an impact: Robbins said his party leadership post as majority caucus secretary puts him in a position to impact the direction of state government.
He said he has been successful in bringing millions of dollars into the 50th District for transportation, infrastructure and economic development, and pointed out the state Route 18 widening project and the ongoing development of Gateway Commerce Park, both in Hermitage, as prime examples.
"Experience and effective leadership do make a difference," he said.
Priorities facing the Legislature this year include working through a tough budget while maintaining existing economic development programs that help business and industry to expand, and new business and industry to come into the state, he said.
Medical malpractice legislation is also at the top of the agenda, he said, noting that all parties involved, including doctors, hospitals and trial lawyers, will have to make some compromises if meaningful reform is to be enacted.