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Protest over health care cuts planned at governor’s office

Religious leaders, health care providers and advocates for disabled people will gather at 1 p.m. today outside Gov.

Religious leaders, health care providers and advocates for disabled people will gather at 1 p.m. today outside Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s office at the Capitol to urge him “to put all budget options on the table to prevent health care cuts that would be devastating for Minnesota families, local economies, and the health care system.”

In other words, they want the governor to consider tax hikes as a way to solve the budget crisis and stave off the major cuts that will be required without new taxes.

Scheduled to speak are Father John Estrem, CEO of Catholic Charities; Julie Schnell President, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota; and Nikki Villavicencio, who uses the Personal Care Assistance program, which faces major cuts.

The House and Senate already have agreed on a health and human services bill that calls for $500 million in cuts, but the amount could be far greater if the governor and the Legislature don’t agree on new funding for state services.

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Organizers say the governor’s proposed cuts would result in more than 100,000 Minnesotans losing access to coverage — including 20,000 children — hospital closings and job layoffs, and increased health care costs for all Minnesotans.