Schminke, Poppe make cases for different approaches

Published 11:17 am Friday, October 7, 2016



In discussing several issues Thursday, Poppe repeatedly called for Republicans and Democrats to come together to find solutions, while Schminke called for reforms and a break from business as usual as he promised to ensure rural Minnesotans gets a fair chance. He argued Gov. Mark Dayton and Twin Cities representatives focus the DFL too much on metro issues.

Poppe, who works as a counselor at Riverland Community College, has served 12 years as a state representative. She promised to continue bringing a good temperament and the ability to problem solve and make good decisions

“I think that I listen to the people of this district and I advocate on their behalf,” she said. “I’ve been very proud to be able to represent this district.”

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Schminke, who is retired after 38 years as an accountant, talked of deciding to run because of his three children and seven grandchildren — with an eighth on the way.

“I’m concerned about their longterm prosperity, and I don’t think we’re going in the right direction on that,” he said.


When asked about education funding, Poppe said she supports the state increasing its funding to higher education and helping students attend college and leave school with less debt. She said she’s worked on efforts to freeze college tuition in an effort to help students pay a lower amount for tuition.

“I certainly support funding education,” she said.

Schminke argued funding education and transportation are two constitutionally mandated functions of state government, but he’s afraid health and human services needs could begin squeezing out needs like education. He also argued for spending at Minnesota State and the University of Minnesota are out of control and need a review of spending.




As MNsure premiums are set to skyrocket next year, Schminke said President Barack Obama and his administration forced the Affordable Care Act — or Obamacare — through to approval and the state followed by forming MNsure without a single Republican vote or amendment.

“It was doomed from the start and all of the problems that are happening now were predicted at the beginning,” Schminke said.

He argued fixes to MNsure will still be bad since Obamacare is a bad law, but he said MNsure fixes are needed since the program isn’t accountable or structured correctly. He argued the state’s prior health systems were better.

However, Poppe urged people to begin looking ahead, while she said there are things that need to be done.

“We can continue to look backwards or we can start moving forward,” she said.

With costs increasing at an alarming rate, Poppe said the increases need to be curtailed and it needs to be a bipartisan effort. She said Democrats need to embrace the need to make changes, while Republicans need to acknowledge that MNsure is the system we have and need to fix it.

Poppe said that’s representative of a lot of the gridlock in the state right now, which needs to end.

“We have too much of a partisan bickering back and forth and finger pointing and blaming, and we have to get away from that,” Poppe said. “We have to say this is a problem that needs to be solved. let’s all put out best minds together on both sides of the aisle.”


After the Legislature failed to enact significant transportation funding plans the last two years, the issue remains a hot issue moving forward, especially with talks on whether to find fixes through the gas tax or through other methods.

“We have a general fund, income tax, sales tax that are throwing off considerable surpluses right now,” he said.

Schminke said he’d vote against a gas tax increase, in favor of using general fund dollars for roads because the state has a surplus. However, he argued that hasn’t happened because Dayton has other plans for that money.

Poppe would support raising the gas tax; however, she added there isn’t one silver bullet to fix transportation funding problem, and that’s an issue. The state must figure out ways to raise revenue to solve the problem, regardless of where the money comes and whether there’s efficiencies to gain through the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

“I know that the county is frustrated, individuals are frustrated, businesses are frustrated and we have to try to figure this out,” Poppe said. “And it will require all of us to say that we already recognize that revenue needs to be increased to solve the problem, so what will those revenue sources be. Gas tax is one potential revenue source.”


When asked about the gridlock that many say has kept big issues from passing in the state in recent years, Schminke argued many things pass with wide support, but he also argued the government system is designed to be challenging to vet bills, especially controversial things like MNsure.

“It’s a system designed to slow things down, and I’m not sure that’s all bad,” he said. “When you go forward with controversial things like MNsure, we should be sure of what we doing. Push it through on the slenderest read of partisan positions, this is what we end up with.”

He also argued the state could look into some procedural and scheduling changes. Voters have also spoke of disincentives like cutting legislative pay or per diems if they can’t get work done, and he said he’s support that.

Poppe argued the Pioneer Press recently rated her the second most centric legislator and is voting with Republicans about 70 percent of the time, and she said she’d like to see both sides and see more people considering both sides of an issue.

“It’s not just Democrats that have the best ideas,” Poppe said. “Republicans have good ideas, Democrats have good ideas, and frankly we need to come together to be able to come up with what the best ideas are.”

But as a partisan political body, Poppe said there will always be gridlock and bickering. She also spoke of some changes to ensure that all legislators have a voice at the table and that too much isn’t coming from caucus leaders.

Poppe said people won’t always agree on issues, but people must work together for the collective goal of bettering Minnesota.

“We do understand that progress is made when we all can see what the goal is and we can come up with the best ideas and work together toward that goal,” she said.

“I’d like to be able to serve in this capacity for two more years,” she said.

Schminke argued this election comes down to two issues. First, are voters happy with the status quo and business as usual. Second, many issues come down to ideology versus economic reality. He also again argued the state didn’t secure a bonding bill or tax bill because of partisan pettiness by Dayton and Twin Cities legislators.

“Something needs to change,” he said.