The House District 25B race features a former Republican lawmaker hoping to return to St. Paul and a retired Realtor new to politics.
Former Rep. Fran Bradley, R-Rochester, argues his experience sets him apart from his opponent. Bradley served in the Minnesota House from 1995 to 2006. During those years, he said he received awards from a wide range of groups including those representing people with disabilities, taxpayers and farm groups.
“Every one of those forms of recognition is recognition, I think, for a job well done,” Bradley said.
His opponent, Rochester Democrat Daune Sauke, vows if he is elected, he will not just go along with politics as usual. Instead, he will go to St. Paul with an open mind looking to find solutions and areas of common ground. He said he has no interest in staking out positions on issues and refusing to budge.
“The more you ask me to put a stake in the ground, the more worthless I am,” Sauke said.
Both candidates say they are concerned about rising health insurance premiums, but they offer different approaches to solving the problem. To help reduce insurance costs in the individual market, Bradley said he would look at bringing back something Minnesota used to do — providing a high-risk pool for individuals with serious health issues. He also would support efforts to encourage consumers to use health savings accounts.
As for MNsure, the state’s health insurance exchange, Bradley said he would look at moving as many people as possible to the federal exchange. He also would convene a group of experts to analyze MNsure to see what can be done.
“I’m tired of hearing excuses. I’m tired of well, we’re going to fix (MNsure) in the next round. People deserve better than that,” Bradley said.
Sauke agrees there are problems with the individual health insurance market, but he said it is important to remember the system had serious problems before Obamacare took effect. In the past, consumers faced lifetime limits on insurance coverage, and plans would not cover some conditions.
“Everybody is saying, ‘My health care is a mess.’ And as it turns out, opportunistic people are saying, ‘It’s because of Obamacare that this is your experience.’ I’m sorry, that’s irresponsible,” Sauke said.
To try to bring down costs, Sauke said it is important to examine how much drug companies are being allowed to charge for medication. It also is important to look at how much health care providers are charging for surgeries and other procedures. As for MNsure, he said getting rid of the Minnesota-run system will do nothing to bring down health insurance costs.
Bradley talks extensively about the need to cut taxes. If elected, he said he would support reducing income tax rates on the state’s highest earners, phasing out the tax on Social Security income and gradually getting rid of the statewide business property tax.
“We’re penalizing the job providers, which doesn’t make sense to me,” Bradley said.
Sauke emphasizes the need to make key investments. Specifically, he said the state needs to begin investing more money in pre-K for 4-year-olds. Research has shown for every $1 invested in early childhood education, there is a $17 return. Sauke said he is open to exploring a wide range of options to do this, including offering pre-K in public schools. But he said his preference would be to expand pre-K using the state’s existing scholarship system.
He added, “We are responsible to educate our children.”
Originally published in the Post-Bulletin.