ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is defending new contracts for more than 27,000 state employees ahead of a legislative panel’s vote.

Dayton called the contracts “reasonable” and in line with those negotiated by his Republican predecessor, Tim Pawlenty, in a letter Wednesday to the lead Republicans on the Subcommittee on Employee Relations.

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The subcommittee is scheduled to vote on the contracts Thursday after Republicans who control the panel expressed disappointment with the terms at a hearing three weeks ago.

The contracts include a 2 percent raise for all state workers.

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A no vote would hold up the contracts until the full Legislature can vote next year.

Dayton is accusing the Republicans of “trying to drive a wedge between public and private sector employees.”

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