Once players in the majority party, the new minority leaders of the Minnesota House and Senate Friday pledged to be fair but tough in their relationship with the newly elected Republican majority.
The new DFL Senate leader, Tom Bakk of Cook, and the new top DFLer in the House, Paul Thissen of Minneapolis, said they would try to find common ground with Republicans on raising revenue, noting that Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty approved increasing fees even as he opposed tax increases.
Still, they foreshadowed a contentious session with the majority party.
"We're going to have some very stark differences," Bakk told reporters at a Capitol news conference. "We're going to drive a very tough bargain."
Among the potential flash points is funding for higher education, which has been a target for Republicans in the past. Bakk and Thissen indicated they would resist futher efforts to cut funding, arguing that improvements in education are necessary to create jobs.
Both said they expected DFLer Mark Dayton to be confirmed as governor after a recount and said they didn't anticipate a delay in seating him to give Pawlenty and the Republican-led legislature an opportunity to quickly enact legislation.