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Pawlenty meets with bonding, GAMC leaders

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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

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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.

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 Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party 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.

Tellijohn and Davis report for Forum Communications Co.

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