ST. PAUL, Minn. - A Ramsey County judge has ruled Governor Mark Dayton's veto of the Legislature's operating funding is unconstitutional.
Chief Judge John Guthmann made the ruling Wednesday following a bitter legal dispute between the Democratic governor and Republican-controlled Legislature.
Dayton zeroed out the operating budgets for the House and Senate last May in hopes of forcing lawmakers to rework a $650 million tax bill as well as other measures. No governor in the state’s history had ever tried to defund the legislature.
An attorney for the Legislature argued it was a blatant violation of separation of powers. But Dayton's attorney says the governor has broad authority to veto appropriations.
The House and Senate have about 500 full-time, year-round staff members who could've been furloughed in September when budget reserves were set to expire.
In a statement Wednesday, Gov. Dayton said he's asked his legal counsel to appeal the decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
“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," Dayton said. “I will continue to fight for fiscally sound budgets and policies that benefit all Minnesotans.”
In a tweet, House Speaker Kurt Daudt said, "Pretty good day for Minnesotans!" and included a photo of the final page of the court ruling. Later, Daudt said, "We are disappointed that the governor is apparently refusing to accept the court's decision. The court could not have been clearer: 'the Governor’s line-item veto of the Legislature’s appropriations offended the Separation of Powers clause of the Minnesota Constitution. However, should the governor decide to appeal, we have agreed through our stipulation to an expedited review of the case by the Supreme Court."
Stay with KARE 11 for more about this developing story.
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