Republicans sue Gov. Dayton over line-item veto of legislative funding

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Republican legislative leaders filed a constitutional lawsuit against Gov. Mark Dayton Tuesday over his line-item veto of funding for the state Legislature.

Last month, Dayton used his line-item veto authority to cut all funding for the House and the Senate in an effort to bring the Legislature back into special session to reconsider five specific items the governor signed into law but wants the legislature to rescind.

Dayton, along with legislative leaders met for about 45 minutes on Tuesday morning in what the governor called a candid discussion.

“We don’t have any resolution,” said Dayton after the meeting. “They’re sticking with their position and I’m sticking with mine.”

House Speaker Kurt Daudt said they now have to turn to the courts to resolve the matter.

“I think we had expectations that hopefully the governor would have had a change of heart in his approach this morning. It doesn’t appear that he has,” Daudt said. 

The civil lawsuit filed by the House and the Senate alleges that Governor Dayton’s veto of legislative funds “violate the Separation of Powers Clause of the Minnesota Constitution.” The lawsuit asks a Ramsey County judge to grant an injunction against the vetoes and direct Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans to pay the operating funds for the legislature for the 2018-19 fiscal year that starts July first.

The lawsuit states, “Without such relief, Plaintiffs are unable to fulfill their constitutional obligations, will not be able to properly represent their constituents, and the People of the State of Minnesota are deprived of a constitutionally-mandated voice in the administration of their government.”

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka says the governor left them with no choice but to ask the courts to step in. 

“If we can still find a solution with the Governor we will certainly do that,” said Gazelka. “We would prefer that.  But we’re not going to give up on some of the issues that we all agreed to moving through the session and the bills that were signed into law.” 

The House has enough money in reserves to keep employees on the job for at least the month of July. But the funding for the Senate doesn’t just pay for employees, it also pays for the lease on the new Minnesota Senate Building. Without those payments, Gazelka said the state could default on the building and affect the State’s future bond rating.