On the ballot 2012: Joe SchomackerName: Joe Schomacker Office sought: Re-election as State Representative for District 22A City in which you reside: Luverne
Name: Joe Schomacker
Office sought: Re-election as State Representative for District 22A
City in which you reside: Luverne
Occupation: Small business owner
What qualifications do you feel you have for the office you seek? After college at South Minnesota State University, I returned to Luverne to start my business and live my life, something too many people I graduated with never saw the opportunity to do. We lose our young people to Sioux Falls or The Cities because they don’t think they can have the same job opportunities here at home. I understand personally what that’s like.
Between my small business and my family’s cleaning business, I have learned first-hand the struggles of our small business. Unless people are growing businesses and staying in our region, all businesses working everyday to stay afloat won’t make it.
I work with the other side of the aisle to get the job done. I lead the House’s bipartisan long-term care study group in order to sit down with both sides and discuss how we can best approach the issues in long-term care. I had bipartisan support for many of my bills because I understood that was the only way the bills would become law. I was able to get the job done with my bills because we always started the discussion with what we agreed on and built from there. It’s that mentality that earned me the endorsements of both business and union groups across the state.
I prioritize wants versus needs and believe that our government should live within its means. My primary focus of the 2011-2012 session included reform in the areas of health care, nursing home care and group homes. It’s how we were able to get a rate increase for many of our small, rural nursing homes and began closing the disparity between rural and metro schools while balancing a $5.8 billion budget deficit.
What is your top priority in state government? Getting the government out of the way of job creators trying to grow their businesses and get people back to work. During the last two years, unemployment has dropped from 7.5 percent to 5.7 percent and half the jobs lost during the Great Recession have been created again. It’s that job creation that got Minnesotans off of public assistance, and saved the state over $600 million. It created more taxpayers again, bringing in more than $300 million in new income taxes. We need to continue advancing policies that promote job creation in Minnesota.
Explain ideas you have to achieve your top priority: To enhance what’s happened in the last two years, we need to pass the Angel Investment Credit and the Greater Minnesota internship program for small, growing businesses in our region. We should also continue cutting red tape and speed up the permitting process for our growing businesses.
What do you hope to see accomplished during the state during your term, should you be elected? We need to see a rate increase for our rural nursing homes and group homes. These employees have gone years without a pay raise and are already paid too low. Rep. Hamilton and I started to get this moving in the right direction during the last session with the small rate increase we were able to get for many facilities, but there is a long way to go.
We also must continue closing the rate disparity between rural schools and metro schools. The small school line item that was added this last year was the first time we’d ever been able to start closing the gap, and we need to continue moving in that direction.
Government also needs to live within its means. Even though our economy is rebounding, government is growing faster than our economy and causing a projected budget deficit in the general fund. We must look to innovative new ways to reform government in ways that maintain quality while keeping costs in line.