GOP Rep. Jim Abeler says he agrees with Governor Dayton on the need to avoid a government shutdown. He also hopes his recent hearing on the matter helps put things in perspective.
Last month, the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee, which Abeler chairs, held a hearing that discussed the impacts of the 2005 shutdown. Abeler's decision to hold the hearing raised eyebrows because it was so early in the 2011 legislative session.
Dayton keyed in on the hearing during his speech, urging lawmakers to pledge not to shutdown state government.
"It is absolutely unthinkable that we would even contemplate doing so here in Minnesota.," Dayton said. "So, I ask you, legislators; I invite you; I implore you -- to join with me now, right here in our Capitol and pledge to the people of Minnesota that we will not shut down their government, our government -- not next July 1st, not any July 1st, not any day ever."
Abeler told reporters that Dayton's comments surprised him. He said he held the hearing because he wanted to emphasize the problems that would occur if there was a government shutdown.
"I'm glad I gave him a way to make a point," Abeler said. "I don't want a shutdown either. It would be a harmful thing."
Abeler, who is known as a moderate Republican, said he intends to work with Dayton and Human Services Commissioner Cindy Jesson to come up with the least painful cuts to health and human services programs. He acknowledged that his budget area could be a big target as lawmakers look to find cuts.
"I guess I've taken on the role of warning people about what just might happen if things don't go well," he said.