Department of pre-emptive spin:

,Even before the massive health and human services bill was unveiled Tuesday, Republican legislators held a press conference to praise the work they had done in slowing spending in what is the second-biggest piece of the state's budget. 

"We think it's a good agreement," said Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, the chamber's assistant majority leader.

"We will be able to keep the promises we're making," said Rep. Steve Gottwalt, R-St. Cloud. "This is historic."

The bill will move Minnesota away from "an unsustainable track it was on," said Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka.

The three legislators, who chair the committees that oversaw the crafting of the bill, said that even though the $11.3 billion bill represents an increase of more than 11 percent over current spending levels, it's more than 8 percent less than originally forecasted would be spent during the next two-year budget cycle.

 The bill was an attempt "to change the growth curve for health and human services," Hann said. Despite recent two-year-increases in health and welfare spending of 15 percent, the bill holds that increase to less than 5 percent, he said.

As contentious as negotiations over the bill were, all had praise for Gov. Mark Dayton and his staff members during the drawn-out process.

"He was most of a gentleman in dealing with us," Abeler said. "[It was] most collegial. It shows a good dialogue can go on with the executive branch."

 

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