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You don’t think of issues in terms only of what’s good for your district. You think of issues in terms of what’s good for the public interest. Generally, what’s good for the public interest is going to be what’s good for your district, with very few exceptions. The Texas legislature is slowly, but surely, improving. The problem is the way it’s structured in terms of pay, per diem, it precludes a lot of good people from running. Most people don’t pay much attention [to politics]. How can you pay much attention to the legislature when you’re concerned about paying the rent, putting the kids through school, working from sunup to sundown? People who have time to pay attention are the ones who have the money. It’s easier to organize for those who are attorneys or own their own businesses or work for big corporations than those working the midnight shift. A lot of good people, they come up here and can only serve two or three terms, and they quit because they cannot afford it financially. So what happens is that you have some people who come up here with good intentions, and after a session or two they become very dependent on lobbyists and specialinterest campaign contributions because that’s the only way they can make it. You know, I never look at my campaign contribution list to determine who has paid and who didn’t for the simple reason that I don’t want to know. I don’t study it and I don’t analyze it and try to determine who’s for me and who’s against me, who did what and who didn’t. I don’t want that in any way to influence me in the way I vote and the way I feel. Do you think there should be a living wage for legislators and they should meet every year? Well, I think that there should be at least enough to cover our expenses. I’ve been through $30,000 in my savings account since I got elected. What I’m saying is, we get insufficient money for a staff. I have an excellent administrative assistant, David Diaz. I pay him the maximum under the house rules, but the guy’s also got to work parttime to make ends meet. Under the law, if I had huge campaign contributions I could probably supplement his income. The point I’m trying to make is, how do you make up the difference? You make up the difference if you have campaign money. And pretty soon you become so reliant on that, that you start looking to see who’s giving you money. And you may sometimes unconsciously start to lean in the direction of people who make these kinds of campaign contributions because that’s the only way you can keep going. You end up having a lot of people [in office] who are in business. Independent businessmen. And by and large independent businesspeople are conservative. Not that they are not, in general, concerned with the public interest. But certainly they are not going to be as concerned about your little folks as someone who is not a businessman or who grew up picking cotton or has worked their way through life. They have different perspectives. How can you, for example, understand the needs of mothers on AFDC [Aid to Families with Dependent. Children] or how can. you understand the need for indigent health care? How can you understand the need for compensatory education for kids if you yourself have never experienced that type of life, if you have never really lived with those people, if you have never really gotten to know and interact with them and know the problems that they have? You don’t. Special Session It seems like the special session is a lot like the Gramm-Rudman business, where they’re using a fiscal reality to promote a political agenda, in the way they go after the Office of Public Counsel, for example, or they go after Hightower a little bit, or they go after social programs. Well, that’s very true. They are using the deficit in the state budget as an excuse to go after people like Hightower and Jim Boyle and Attorney General Jim Mattox. What do they have against those people? They rock the boat. You have people like Hightower who try to do good and help the family farmer, to open up TDA to everybody, including farmworkers. He’s not interested in pleasing the corporate farmer. He’s interested in trying to help the family farmer, to help farming in general, to help the farmworker. He’s trying to address issues that affect the public interest. Right now there’s no way that we can make up the present state deficit without a tax increase. I made the comment to the newspaper press and the TV press that we have people who are sticking their heads in the sand and don’t want to deal with reality. They’re hoping that the problem will go away, but it won’t Rep. Juan Hinojosa go away. They’re more concerned with their re-election than they are with the public interest in dealing with this issue. But by and large the general public would support a tax increase if it was explained to , them how serious the problem was and the consequences of making the budget cuts without raising revenue. When you start talking about laying off 8,000 to 10,000 state employees and laying off 2,000 to 3,000 construction workers the ripple effect it has on the economy I guarantee you the public will say you’re right, we’d rather pay for the services. Do you think Hobby’s being a real leader? I think Hobby has really confronted the issue and tried to provide the leadership that is lacking in other parts of state government. I was glad to see White finally come around. We had to sort of push him and pull him and shove him and what have you. But he finally came around to the conclusion that there was no way to make up the deficit without a tax increase. Do you think he’s tried to position himself between Hobby and Lewis in order that there could be somebody who could talk to Lewis, that he would get in the middle on purpose? In my opinion he was trying to appease the conservatives and the Republicans. Well, heck, man, they were not the ones who put him in office. It was us who put him in office. So what he was doing was basically alienating his natural constituencies, who got him into office, to try, to get the support of the conservatives and maybe some Republicans, who aren’t going to vote for him anyway. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15