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Firefighters oppose Pawlenty's training fund cut

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news Willmar, 56201
West Central Tribune
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Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

AUSTIN, Minn. (AP) -- Minnesota's fire chiefs and leaders of firefighter unions from around the state are teamed up in opposition to Gov. Tim Pawlenty's proposal to cut $10 million from a fund for training firefighters.

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The Austin Daily Herald reports that the Minnesota Professional Firefighters union and the State Fire Chiefs Association are united in opposition to shifting the money out of the training fund in order to help cover the state's nearly $1 billion budget deficit.

The fund is fueled by a 0.65 percent surcharge paid by homeowners on their insurance policies. Austin firefighter Chris Grunewald says the money is crucial to departments like his with limited budgets and a need to keep firefighters trained.

Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung says $3 million of the shift would come from the fund's $4 million surplus, with the rest a transfer from its current balance.

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