Judge rules against Dayton's veto, restores Legislature funding

A Ramsey County judge restored funding for the Minnesota Legislature Wednesday, ruling against Gov. Mark Dayton’s line-item veto to remove its $130 million budget in May.

The House and the Senate filed a civil lawsuit against Dayton after he used his line-item authority to cut all funding for the Legislature. It was a last-ditch effort by the governor to bring the legislature back into special session to reconsider five specific items the governor signed into law but wanted the Legislature to rescind. The lawsuit alleges Dayton’s veto violated the Separation of Powers Clause in the Minnesota Constitution.

According to the Associated Press, the judge ruled that Dayton “clearly overstepped the bounds of a line-item veto by effectively eliminating another branch of government, declaring that veto “null and void.”

Speaking at a press conference following the ruling, Speaker Kurt Daudt said, “Minnesotans won today.” 

“Today the court ruled an entire branch of government cannot be eliminated by a stroke of the governor’s pen,” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said in a statement. “The governor should accept this verdict and allow the people of Minnesota to move on, instead of continuing to waste taxpayer dollars on expensive litigation.”

At his press conference, Daudt urged Dayton not to appeal the judge’s ruling on his veto. He said the court order does not affect his attitude towards the governor and is willing to start fresh.

But, Dayton said Wednesday afternoon he plans to appeal the ruling to the Minnesota Supreme Court. 

Statement from Gov. Mark Dayton on court ruling 

“Today’s District Court ruling is only a preliminary step in this case’s judicial process. The Stipulation, which the House, Senate, and I filed with the District Court Judge in June, states, ‘The parties agree to jointly seek accelerated review by the Minnesota Supreme Court of the District Court’s order or judgment,’ (June 23, 2017, paragraph 4). Accordingly, I have asked Sam Hanson, my legal counsel, to appeal this decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

“It is unfortunate that Republican Legislative Leaders are using this ruling to avoid completing their work by correcting their serious errors in the last Legislative Session. From the beginning of my administration, I have worked hard to restore sound fiscal integrity to our State Government. My line-item veto was targeted to achieve this result. As I have said, the tax bill passed last May by Republican Legislators jeopardizes Minnesota’s structurally balanced budget in the future. By working together, Republican Leaders could join with me to remove fiscally irresponsible tax cuts and also to eliminate the un-Minnesotan attacks on our state’s immigrant communities and our dedicated teachers.
“I will continue to fight for fiscally sound budgets and policies that benefit all Minnesotans.”