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Clark: Health Care Access Fund off the table

DFL State Rep. Karen Clark says the Health Care Access Fund will go for health, not budget balancing.

Memory and perception are tricky enough to negotiate without letting a bunch of politicians muddle things. But the spin machine that was whirring after the meeting between DFL and Republican leadership and the governor at the Capitol yesterday ensured nobody knew what was going on.

One of the sticking points as all three sides try to fix the $935 million budget shortfall is the Health Care Access Fund, from which Gov. Tim Pawlenty wants to take $250 million to balance the books. DFLers are opposed.

Yesterday, DFL leadership came out of the meeting saying it was off the table, Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung said that was not necessarily the case, and GOP leadership said they thought that perhaps the money was not available.

Or so I thought. That’s what I wrote–and I’m sticking by it. But TPT’s Mary Lahammer reported that Republicans had not said the Health Care Access Fund was off limits. And Session Daily, a product of the House public information services, essentially had the same view as Lahammer.

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Today I interviewed Sen. Tarryl Clark, the DFLer from St. Cloud who’s the Senate’s Assistant Majority Leader. Is the Health Care Access Fund on or off the table?

“He knows it’s off the table,” Clark said of the governor, laughing a bit. “He acknowledged it when we came together again [yesterday]. We don’t want to put words in his mouth. We said, you know this is off the table, just like you’re saying no new revenue.”

The deal being that the guv won’t touch the fund if the Democrats don’t raise any more taxes. So it is off the table?

“We think so.”