Governor’s unconstitutional veto defunds the Legislature in two weeks, impacts state's credit rating SAINT PAUL- The Minnesota House and Senate filed a lawsuit in Ramsey County District Court Tuesday against Governor Mark Dayton and Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans. The Legislature is asking the courts to declare the governor’s veto unconstitutional and restore funding at the amounts allotted in the 2017 Omnibus State Government Appropriations bill which became law when Governor Dayton signed it. Those appropriations match the amount recommended in the governor’s own budget. Late last month, Governor Dayton line-item vetoed the Legislative branch’s 2018-19 budget, violating the Separation of Powers Clause in the Minnesota Constitution.
Beginning July 1, 2017, the Legislature will be without funding as a result of the governor’s actions. “Five million Minnesotans’ voices are being threatened at the Capitol. We are disappointed in Governor Dayton’s behavior, especially after our productive session including historic tax relief and investments in roads. Ultimately, the governor has left us no choice, but to defend our constituents in court," said Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown). “The governor can’t defund the legislature whenever he disagrees with what we’re doing – that’s a clear violation of the constitutional separation of powers. The legislature is the voice of the people and that voice has been silenced with this line-item veto. Thankfully, Minnesotans will still reap the benefits of the rest of the budget, including tax relief and transportation funding, which is now signed into law,” said Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa). Besides the constitutional question, legislators also pointed out Tuesday the governor’s veto will have an immediate and disastrous impact on the state’s credit rating because the Senate will not be able to make monthly lease payments on the new Senate Office Building.
MMB has warned in the past that failure to appropriate money to pay appropriation bonds (similar to the certificate of participation bonds used to finance the Senate Office Building) would cause “substantial adverse publicity in national and local media, and there would be the possibility of regulatory investigations and investor lawsuits.” “Obviously Gov. Dayton did not fully anticipate the consequences of his veto. Not making our monthly lease payments will be a significant problem for the state as we try to sell the bonds just authorized in the 2017 Bonding Bill. We need immediate relief from the court to prevent this calamity,” concluded Senator Gazelka. The Legislature serves a core function of state government, representing more than five million Minnesotans in both the House and Senate. Legislators' elected responsibilities include communicating with constituents about pending legislation, proposing future legislation and issues or concerns with existing laws. Legislative staff facilitate those communications as well as crafting legislation for consideration.