MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Legislature is hiring a private law firm to challenge Gov. Mark Dayton’s decision to veto funding for them.
Dayton zeroed out the legislature’s budget while signing the rest of a $46 billion budget earlier this week. It was a response to lawmakers forcing him to sign a $650 million package of tax cuts.
In a meeting Friday morning, Democrats argued against the expense of going to court, but a majority of the legislative leaders approved hiring Minneapolis firm Kelley, Wolter and Scott.
Gov. Mark Dayton says his veto is legal. He hopes it will force lawmakers back to the Capitol for another Special Session.
But there’s a catch: Dayton wants them to repeal laws he already signed.
Dayton says he signed major budget bills into law despite strong disagreements to avoid a state government shutdown.
“I understand the enormous uncertainties and disruptions that even the threat of another shutdown would cause for many thousands of Minnesotans,” Dayton said.
He wants lawmakers back at the Capitol to remove parts of the bills he doesn’t like. Republican leaders say Dayton agreed to all of the bills before they passed them.
Dayton “zeroed out” funding for the legislature to force them back to the Capitol. He wants to repeal a ban on undocumented immigrant licenses; to repeal Tobacco Tax breaks, including premium cigars; to repeal far-reaching teacher license reforms; and to repeal a major cut in the estate tax.
All of those are items on which Republicans say they had a deal.
“More disappointing than his behavior on this issue is the fact that he is going back on the word that he gave,” House Speaker Kurt Daudt said.
Dayton took the unprecedented step of de-funding an entire branch of state government. Now it may be up to the Courts to decide if it’s constitutional. And any court action may have to come quickly; the legislature’s funding will dry up July 1, when a new budget starts.