ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Governor Mark Dayton says it was his idea to veto all of the funding for the Minnesota Legislature.
Gov. Dayton told reporters he’s hoping to force the Legislature back into Special Session to remove parts of a spending bills he considers “destructive.”
The key here is the items Governor Dayton wants removed. Republicans say the governor agreed to all of them in the spending bills that passed the Special Session last week. House and Senate Republicans say the Democratic Governor acted illegally by zeroing out funding for the Legislature.
Vowing to take the veto — and the Governor — to court.
“I think it’s a separation of powers issue. I just don’t know he can possibly de-fund the people’s voice!” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said.
Governor Dayton told reporters on a conference call it was his idea to sign the budget bills to avoid a government shutdown and veto the Legislature’s operating funds. He said the House and Senate should spend down what he called a secret “slush fund” for day-to-day operations.
“The constitution gives me the authority to line item appropriation measures. It doesn’t qualify that I can line item this, but not others. It’s just blanket authority,” Gov. Dayton said.
House Republicans issued a legal memo claiming the Governor’s veto is unconstitutional because it violates the “separation of powers” clause. And the Democratic Attorney General, who would normally represent the Governor of Minnesota, said she’s not prepared to comment yet on a legal action she hasn’t seen.
“This is a very fast and fluid situation. And it’s something that has been developing in just the last several hours. So at this point, we’re just going to have to wait and see what circumstances unfold and what develops,” Attorney General Lori Swanson said.
The governor wondered out loud Wednesday why the Legislature should be funded when it is not in session. He later walked that comment back, saying it was tongue in cheek.
But it signals the kind of legal fight we’re going to see in the next couple of months.