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Republicans said they could do a better job in Legislature

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WILLMAR — Things would be different if they were still in charge, Republican legislative leaders said Tuesday.

Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, and House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, were in Willmar on a trip through western Minnesota. In Willmar, they were joined by Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City.

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The Legislature is in recess until next week, and leaders from both parties are traveling around the state to discuss their agendas before returning to St. Paul for the last month of the session.

Hann and Daudt said they feel the Democrats are engaging in election-year politics and claiming credit for events the former Republican majority set in motion.

The repaying of money borrowed from school districts to balance the budget was an example they used. The money was borrowed in the past decade, and the Republican Legislature of 2011 and 2012 had paid back some of it and put in place a mechanism for paying it off, they said.

“It happened the way we planned,” Urdahl said. “They shouldn’t take credit for it.”

Daudt continued, “The only thing Democrats did was pay off the last one.”

 “A lot of things we’ve dealt with have been dealt with in a very partisan way,” said Hann. “With one-party rule, we’re getting a very ideologically driven agenda.”

Hann was not specific when asked what Republicans would change if they were still in charge. He did not answer a question about whether they would repeal a minimum wage law or roll back a plan to fund all day, every day kindergarten, both items the Legislature has adopted since the DFL took control.

Urdahl volunteered that there would be no tax increases if Republicans were in charge. “We wouldn’t spend as much,” he said. “Things may still increase, just not as much.”

Daudt said the one issue he hears most about from constituents is a proposed Senate office building. The building was not included in a bonding bill, which is how state buildings are commonly funded. Instead, it was inserted in the tax bill at the end of the last session, he said.

“It never got a hearing,” Hann said. “The idea of spending $90 million on a building we don’t need is extravagant.”

Currently, majority party senators have offices in the State Capitol, and minority party senators have offices in the State Office Building, along with members of the Minnesota House.

The Capitol is undergoing a major restoration, and some of the Capitol offices will be converted into public space.

Urdahl, who serves on the Capitol Preservation Commission, said, “The Capitol was never meant to be an office building.”

The proposed new building would have offices for all 67 state senators, but Republicans oppose it because of the cost and because “financing is still unclear,” Hann said.

The Republicans also criticized Democrats’ handling of the MNsure program, the state’s version of the federal Affordable Care Act and said they believe it will cost more than projected.

It will be the Democrats turn today when Minnesota House Majority Leader Erin Murphy and are state representatives Mary Sawatzky and Andrew Falk hold a news conference at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at Ridgewater College in Willmar.

The event is part of a statewide effort to present the party’s efforts during the 2014 legislative session and focus on projects in the bonding bill, which is the major piece of legislation yet to be passed this session.

It will be the Democrats turn today when Minnesota House Majority Leader Erin Murphy and are state representatives Mary Sawatzky and Andrew Falk hold a news conference at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at Ridgewater College in Willmar.

The event is part of a statewide effort to present the party’s efforts during the 2014 legislative session and focus on projects in the bonding bill, which is the major piece of legislation yet to be passed this session.

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Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

(320) 214-4340
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