Poppe looks to tackle budget

Published 7:57 am Friday, September 17, 2010

Reducing the state budget deficit is a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it, and Rep. Jeanne Poppe (D-District 27B) wants to be that somebody.


“We’ve grown to expect many things,” Poppe said. “We have high expectations of high quality, but we have to lower those expectations and increase the burden.”

Poppe, who is running for her fourth term as representative against Jennifer Gumbel, said that some of the areas of the budget that need revising are health and human services and education, especially higher education. She thinks these areas should be re-evaluated first since they take up the biggest chunk of the budget.

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“We are outpricing ourselves,” Poppe said. “It’s a question not so much about what sorts of taxes we have to raise, but what do we expect from government and how do we want to pay it?”

The state representative said she is concerned about the state of higher education, especially because she works as a counselor at Riverland Community College.

Poppe said that since tuition prices are so high and public funding has diminished over the years, loans are not only hurting students and graduates but the economy in general.

“(High tuition prices) diminish a graduate’s ability to start a family, pay their bills and start their adult life,” Poppe said. “That will impact us economically.”

Poppe also said she wants to take action to prevent large bonuses from being awarded to people in positions of power. She explained that the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MNSCU) system gave the Chancellor of MNSCU a $40,000 bonus last year.

“I have a personal issue with that,” Poppe said. “This is a public education system that relies on tuition money and state and federal money, so things like that have got to change.”

Budgeting money for rural Minnesota is another of Poppe’s priorities. She said that Austin relies on local government aid (LGA) from the state, and cutting that funding could be detrimental to not only Austin, but cities all across Minnesota.

Poppe said that cutting LGA would not be a good solution for taking pressure off the state budget because the loss of funds would only put Austin residents in a worse situation.

“Austin certainly relies on (LGA),” she said. “That’s how they provide for amenities to allow people in the community to feel safe and to keep them there.”

Poppe said it is important for her as a legislator to communicate with her constituents about bills and how the citizens of Austin will be affected by them.

“It’s important for us to have those direct connections with people who know what the bill will do for them,” the state representative said. “I consider myself very thoughtful with my legislating.”

When it comes to the upcoming gubernatorial election, Poppe said she supports Democratic candidate Mark Dayton and is looking forward to working with someone new.

Poppe said she thinks Republican candidate Tom Emmer would be “even more extreme” than Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

“It’s time for Pawlenty to go,” she said. “And there’s things (Emmer) will do that will dramatically change Minnesota for the worse.”

For now, though, Poppe is just focusing on her campaign and getting re-elected. She said that her problem solving and critical thinking skills will continue to be an asset in the legislature if she prevails over Gumbel.

“I’m not someone who just speaks the DFL language. I listen well and act responsibly and advocate on behalf of people in this district,” Poppe said. “I’m the best person for the job right now.”