The governor can't just veto House and Senate funding like that, judge rules

Republicans are happy about the judge's decision.

When Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed funding for the Minnesota House and Senate, he violated the state Constitution, a judge ruled.

Dayton used a line item veto (that's when the governor vetoes small pieces of a bill instead of the whole thing) the part of a bill that would provided funding for the House and Senate for the next two years.

He did it as a way to get Republican lawmakers back to the table to renegotiate things he didn't like in other bills – like the size of some tax cuts – that he'd already allowed to become law, Session Daily explained. The reason for the line item veto had nothing to do with funding for the Legislature.

So the Republican-controlled House and Senate sued him. They argued Dayton violated the Separation of Powers clause in the Minnesota Constitution.

And Ramsey County Judge John Guthmann agreed.

Wednesday's ruling

The judge ruled in favor of the House and Senate on Wednesday. In his order, Guthmann said Dayton's vetoes "effectively abolished the Legislature," which just isn't allowed.

"Dayton improperly used his line-item veto authority to gain a repeal or modification of unrelated policy legislation by effectively eliminating a co-equal branch of government," Guthmann wrote.

Because Dayton's vetoes were unconstitutional, funding for Legislature did become law with the rest of the bill, MPR News notes.

You can read the entire 22-page order here.

Dayton will appeal

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Dayton said he plans to appeal the case 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," Dayton said.

Republicans react

After the ruling was released, Republican leaders cheered the judge's decision, and urged Dayton to accept the ruling.

“Today the court ruled an entire branch of government cannot be eliminated by a stroke of the governor’s pen. 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," Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said in a statement.

And here's House Speaker Kurt Daudt:

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