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The Associated Press March 24, 2011, 1:20PM ET

MN's Iron Range Dems cry foul on trust-fund shift

Democrats who represent Minnesota's Iron Range in the Legislature are ripping Republican plans to shift money out of an economic development trust fund fueled by a production tax on mining companies.

A House GOP jobs and economic development budget bill would shift $60 million from the Douglas J. Johnson Trust Fund. A Senate proposal proposes a $45 million shift.

Iron Range lawmakers point out the companies pay the production tax in lieu of property taxes and say the money is vital to grow jobs in a part of the state with a history of economic struggles.

Several Iron Range Democrats including Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk of Cook say the proposed shift amounts to stealing from the Iron Range. They predicted Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton will not support the proposal.

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