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Republicans question bias of budget meetings

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state Willmar, 56201

Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

The top House Republican says he fears legislative meetings around Minnesota today and Friday will be stacked against GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty's budget proposal.

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"It sounds to me that these 'listening sessions' we are about to have are more like carefully orchestrated political operations set up by Democrats to create 'grassroots' opposition to Gov. Pawlenty's budget proposal," Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, said Wednesday.

Seifert pointed to an e-mail from Rep. Gene Pelowski, DFL-Winona, urging people to attend a local legislative meeting.

"We would ask you to focus your comments on the impact of the governor's budget including what is the harm to your area of government or program," Pelowski wrote.

Republicans have said they feared Democrats, who control the House and Senate, would pack hearings with people who do not like Pawlenty's proposal, coming back to the Capitol saying that Minnesotans do not want cuts contained in the plan, calling for tax increases to keep programs intact.

The state's expected $7 billion deficit is subject of a series of meetings in rural Minnesota this week and the Twin Cities next week. Democrats say they are soliciting ideas from citizens about how to write a two-year budget.

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