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Arne Carlson suggests public money be used to decrease orchestra deficit

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Former Gov. Arne Carlson says the state should consider giving the Minnesota Orchestra public dollars as a way to help alleviate the orchestra's deficit as the year-long lockout continues to drag on, the Star Tribune reports.

Calling the orchestra a "vital state asset," Carlson asks why it's OK to give the Vikings $450 million in taxpayer dollars as the new Vikings stadium.

He tells the paper that if the state can't come up with a sizable chunk of chunk of the $6 million to resolve the orchestra deficit "we'll live to regret."

Comparing the economic impact, Carlson also noted how the orchestra brings 305,000 over the downtown during the course of the year, while the Vikings bring in 502,000 over eight games.

Carlson's idea has piqued the interest of Senate Finance Committee chairman Sen. Dick Cohen, (D-St. Paul). However, Cohen tells the Star Tribune that he's cautious of the idea of getting involved in the "funding crisis of one particular organization involved in a labor dispute when both sides have violated the public trust."

Meanwhile, Minnesota Public Radio is conducting a study asking the public how the dispute between management and musicians is affecting how they view the orchestra.

The plea from the former governor comes about a week after Rep. Phyllis Kahn said she was going to sponsor a bill for the state to buy the orchestra and sell shares of the organization to the public.

The lockout of musicians by management hit the one-year mark on Oct. 1. Music director Osmo Vänskä submitted his resignation the same day.

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