Dayton Says He Will Appeal Judge's Ruling his Veto was Unconstitutional

July 19, 2017 06:23 PM

Gov. Mark Dayton said he plans to appeal a Ramsey County judge's ruling against him that the governor's veto of the Legislature's operating budget was unconstitutional. 

Judge John Guthmann restored funding Wednesday for Minnesota's legislative branch, ruling Dayton's veto was also a violation of separation of powers.

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RELATED: Judge Rules in Favor of House, Senate in Lawsuit Against Dayton

Budgets for the House and Senate became a victim in a fight between the Democratic governor and Republican-controlled Legislature over the scope of tax cuts. Dayton used a line-item veto to remove its $130 million funding in May, trying to call lawmakers back to St. Paul to slim down a $650 million tax bill he signed and remove other provisions such as a rulemaking ban on issuing driver's licenses to immigrants living in the state illegally.

But the Legislature sued. Guthmann ruled Wednesday that Dayton clearly overstepped the bounds of a line-item veto by effectively eliminating another branch of government, declaring that veto "null and void."

"The court concludes that the Governor's vetoes violated the Separations of Powers clause ... because they both nullified a branch of government and refashioned the line-item veto tool to secure the repeal or modification of policy legislation unrelated to the vetoed appropriation," he wrote.

The two sides had agreed to temporarily fund the Legislature through September as the lawsuit progressed.

"It is unfortunate that Republican legislative leaders are using this ruling to avoid completing their work," Dayton said in announcing the appeal. He said he hopes the appeal will force lawmakers into special session to make changes to the tax bill." 

Dayton called the Ramsey County court ruling "only a preliminary step in this case's judicial process."

Top Republicans welcomed the ruling, noting that Dayton's veto caused uncertainty for hundreds of lawmakers and staffers.

"We are happy with the court's decision. The bottom line is that Minnesotans won today," House Speaker Kurt Daudt said. "I would ask the governor to accept the court's decision and not appeal."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Tom Hauser

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