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State Demographer Tom Gillaspy sorts through papers Monday while telling a Minnesota House committee that poverty is up in the state, but trails the national average. (Don Davis / State Capitol Bureau)

Spend a little, save a lot: Lawmakers look at cheap ways to end poverty

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Minnesota legislators face a dilemma: Can they spend money from a tight budget to eliminate poverty by 2020?

If they spend money now, said Rep. Carlos Mariani, DFL-St. Paul, more people would go to work and the state's economy would improve. But since lawmakers are not likely to start many new spending programs in light of a several-billion-dollar budget deficit, Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said they can start the process by looking at improvements that cost little.

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