Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s attempt to remake Minnesota’s budget to his liking took a huge hit today.
“Unconstitutional” was how a Minnesota Judge described the cuts Governor Pawlenty made to state programs at the end of this year’s legislative session. Ramsey County District Court Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin issued a temporary restraining order today blocking Pawlenty’s “unallotment” that adversely affected six poor people who filed the lawsuit.
Attorney David Lillehaug, who is very familiar with the suit, helps us interpret the ruling during our “Quick on The UpTake” program (video above). Link to the ruling here.
You may recognize Lillehaug and Judge Gearin’s name from the famous US Senate recount and election contest in Minnesota. Lillehaug represented now Senator Al Franken in the election contest. Judge Gearin was part of a canvassing panel that presided over the recount.
Reaction to today’s ruling
Governor Tim Pawlenty:
“We are disappointed in the judge’s decision. We are weighing all of our options including appeal, reestablishing unallotments under the current forecast, potential legislative action, and other options.”
Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Speaker, Minnesota House of Representatives and candidate for Governor:
Today’s ruling represents a victory for all Minnesotans concerned about the overreach of executive authority. I applaud Judge Gearin’s order and look forward to a full hearing on this case early next year. As I said earlier, this is an important case about the separation of powers in state government. The legislative and executive branches of government need to be equal partners in addressing Minnesota’s budget crisis.
Matt Entenza, candidate for Governor:
“Today’s decision restraining Tim Pawlenty’s use of unallotment is a major victory. Those of us who have challenged this governor’s hatchet tactics in the past know there are better ways to fix our fiscal problems than by taking from those who have the least. Solving Minnesota’s budget crisis requires a vision for growing our state’s economy.”
Representative Tom Huntley, Chair of the Health Care and Human Services Finance Committee:
“I applaud the District Court’s opinion to restrain Governor Pawlenty’s mean-spirited decision to deny medically necessary food supplements to vulnerable Minnesotans. That program provided over $5 million for life-sustaining diets to 4,300 elderly people and those with disabilities. This opinion is good news for all Minnesotans because their voices, and those of their elected legislative representatives, will once again be heard in the life-or-death decision-making required to balance our budget during an unprecedented fiscal crisis. In Minnesota, there are three branches of government – legislative, executive and the courts. I hope as a result of this decision, the Governor will recognize his responsibility to work as an equal partner on budget decisions of this magnitude.”