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New House and Senate DFL leaders, whose caucuses lost their majorities in Tuesday's election, vow to "negotiate very hard" with Republicans. In contrast to anti-tax Republicans, they said new revenue needs to be considered in next year's budget debate.

Bakk and Thissen face the press

Sen. Tom Bakk, left, and Rep. Paul Thissen (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

A day after they were elected minority leaders of their respective caucuses, Sen. Tom Bakk and Rep. Paul Thissen spoke to reporters about where their party stands in the overall political mix at the Capitol.

Bakk, DFL-Cook, is unique among senators having served in the minority in the House after Republicans won control in 1998. Most DFL senators have never been in the minority because they’ve been in control since 1972. Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, too served in the minority before DFLers gained control of the House in the 2006 election.  They both ran unsuccessfully for the DFL endorsement for governor earlier this year.

Bakk said the defeat means dozens of DFL Senate staffers will get pink slips. Thissen said House DFL staff layoffs are “going to be serious.”

Bakk and Thissen stood alone a day after Republican House leaders and newly elected freshmen stood triumphant at the same podium in Room 125 of the state Capitol. Bakk, while noting the Republicans are in charge, said he hopes they accept the outcome of the likely recount in the governor’s race. DFL gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton leads Republican Tom Emmer by 8,781 out of 2.1 million votes cast.

“They’re in charge. I request of them that we get started in a productive way,” Bakk said.

Bakk was elected without opposition from any other Senate DFLer. Thissen ran against Reps. Ryan Winkler and Tina Liebling, according to a DFL source.

Thissen said DFLers understand their power is limited, “but we’re also going to point out the consequences of the decisions I’m anticipating their going to make.”

Thissen added that the election results don’t point toward either a far-left or far-right agenda.

“The one thing I know the voters didn’t say is this is a mandate for an extreme agenda in either direction,” Thissen said.

DFLers and Republicans in January will convene the 2011 session at the Capitol. With vast differences of opinion on taxes between Dayton and the Republican Legislature, the solution for solving the $5.8 billion budget deficit isn’t any where to be found at this juncture. For his part, Bakk said new revenue will need to be part of the budget solution. He called the idea that revenue isn’t needed to solve the budget problem the “Pawlenty myth.”


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