Legislators sue Dayton for cutting their funding

The legal dispute goes back to the messy end of a special session in which lawmakers delivered a $46 billion budget.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota's Legislature is suing Gov. Mark Dayton over his veto of lawmakers' funding.

The legal dispute goes back to the messy end of a special session in which lawmakers delivered a $46 billion budget. Dayton signed most of the budget in late May but zeroed out nearly $130 million in funding for the House and Senate for the next two years.

The suit, filed in Ramsey County District Court, says Dayton's line-item veto violated the constitutional separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches of state government. The petition seeks to have Dayton's veto declared null and void, and have the legislature's operating budget restored.

A copy of the lawsuit can be found here.

Dayton wants lawmakers to agree to remove big tax breaks for tobacco products and wealthy estate owners. He's also concerned about the fiscal impact of a provision in the tax bill that freezes the state property tax on commercial and industrial property.

"Five billion dollars in revenue costs over the next decade which we were not aware of, they were not aware of, when they passed the bill at the end of the session," Dayton told KARE Tuesday.

"That’s just going to have a catastrophic effect on Minnesota’s fiscal stability in the years ahead."

The Legislature has 435 full time staff members who work year around, and the House and Senate have only enough budget reserves to last through mid August. 

But Republicans on May 29 called it a clearly unconstitutional act and vowed legal action.

It's unclear how the case may proceed and whether it may be immediately accelerated to the Minnesota Supreme Court. The legal fight will cost the taxpayers money.

Legislative leaders agreed to pay Doug Kelley's law firm up to $325 per hour for its work, depending on which staff attorney is used for various aspects of the legal work.

The governor has retained Sam Hanson, a former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice, to represent the Governor's office and Minnesota Management and Budget in the lawsuit. 

© 2017 Associated Press


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