Pawlenty asking for quick action on unallotment appealby Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio,
Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Attorneys for Gov. Pawlenty are asking the Minnesota Supreme Court to take quick action on their appeal of a ruling that undercuts his authority to balance the budget by himself.
The appeal isn't a surprise since Pawlenty announced he would do it one day after a Ramsey County District Court Judge ruled he abused his authority to unilaterally cut spending.
At the time, the judge ordered the restoration of funding for a special diet program for low-income Minnesotans and suggested other parties affected by Pawlenty's use of unallotment could join the suit.
Pawlenty said the judge misinterpreted the law and is asking the Minnesota Supreme Court to immediately take up his appeal. The appeal says quick action is needed because it impacts Gov. Pawlenty's decision in July to make $2.7 billion in unilateral budget cuts.
Pawlenty's appeal also requests the Court of Appeals to expedite the case if the Minnesota Supreme Court declines to act quickly on it.
The group suing the state agreed that quick action by the Minnesota Supreme Court is needed.
A Ramsey County judge also dismissed a lawsuit challenging Pawlenty's unallotment of the state's political contribution refund program. The ruling comes less than two weeks after the same judge upheld a different challenge to Pawlenty's budget-cutting authority.
The governor eliminated about $10 million in funding for the political contribution tax credit last summer, using his unallotment power to balace the state's budget. Minneapolis resident Robert Carney filed suit, arguing that the governor didn't have constitutional authority to eliminate a tax credit.
Judge Kathleen Gearin ruled Monday that Carney -- who announced his candidacy for governor Monday -- did not prove his case.
While Carney argued that the political contribution refunds were a tax program, Gearin disagreed. She also said Carney's case raised policy issues, not legal issues.
The ruling is a win for Pawlenty over his use of unallotment authority. Less than two weeks ago, Gearin ruled that Pawlenty misused that authority by cutting unilaterally eliminating a different program -- a food program for low-income sick people.
"In this case, the judge again affirmed the constitutionality and legality of unallotment and we believe she made the right decision," Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung said in a written statement.
Elizabeth Dunbar is a general assignment reporter for MPR News.