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Pawlenty meets with bonding, GAMC leaders

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
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Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

ST. PAUL -- The governor and legislators are meeting over two sticky issues that had appeared ready to implode.

Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty met with key lawmakers Wednesday on a public works funding bill and a health care program for some of Minnesota's poorest residents. While no deals were reached, both sides said they made progress and were optimistic they could work out compromises.

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Ten legislators working on a public works finance bill met with Pawlenty late Wednesday afternoon, emerging saying that they thought an agreement would come by next week.

"I think we have opened the door and we can start working the on the process," Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, said.

Even one of Pawlenty's harshest critics, Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, said he was optimistic that a new bill could pass next week.

The House and Senate passed a public works bill, funded by the state selling bonds, much larger than Pawlenty wants, but not including some items he feels are important such as making more room for sex offender treatment.

Pawlenty put flood control at the top of his bonding priority list, Langseth said.

Key DFL lawmakers left their own meeting with Pawlenty Wednesday afternoon hopeful there was still a chance to save the General Assistance Medical Care program.

Sen. Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, said she was uncertain whether the meeting and another one later would stave off a Senate attempt to override Pawlenty's veto from last week, but believed he was sincere in meeting with the DFL leaders.

The governor's veto came swiftly after the House and Senate passed pared down versions of the GAMC program. An override would extend the program, which serves more than 30,000 low-income adults, for 16 months.

The program that provides health care to single adults earning less than $8,000 annually is scheduled to end April 1.

Andrew Tellijohn and Don Davis report for Forum Communications Co.

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Pioneer staff reports
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