Several GOP legislators are weighing in on Judge Gearin’s TRO ruling.

Here’s Rep. Laura Brod’s reaction:

Last session, the Democrats walked away from the negotiating table and gave up the leadership authority granted to them by the people of Minnesota and instead decided upon a strategy in which they simply criticize the Governor. Lacking real solutions to the budget problems, they took the easy way out. The Governor did the hard work for them. If Democrats cannot solve problems working with the Governor, they now have shown that they are willing to use the courts rather than legislate their way out of controversial and difficult decisions. Through their use of legislative resources, they even found a way to not even have to pay their legal bills—but, unfortunately, the taxpayers will.

The focus on unallotment disquises a real long-term problem: spending is out of control and unsustainable. We need to do things differently. There is a clear need to prioritize our spending so that we do not continue to have deficit after deficit year after year. If the Democrats really wanted to solve the problem and minimize the Governor’s use of unallotment in the future, the solution is quite simple: don’t spend more than you have.

Here’s Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer’s reaction:

Judge Gearin is the same one in the Frankin/Coleman Canvassing Board.

She says law says can do allotment only if an “unforeseen” budget shortfall. That law does not qualify the ability of the governor to unallot. The DOR must ascertain that the condition exists and then the Governor can unallot. Gearin is wrong that there is a qualification of “unforeseen”.

Here is the link to a brief on it with a quote on this law.

Here’s Rep. Pat Garofalo’s reaction:

Whether it is unallotment or legislative action, the result will be the same…government will have to live within it’s means and trimmed in size.

Here’s House GOP Whip Dan Severson’s reaction:

This is just another example of over-reaching of judicial activism that is infringing on the separation of powers. If they really want to go there, we then need to legislatively restrict their ability to legislate from the bench.

I did a quick skim of the Research Department’s brief on unallotment. This section jumped out at me:

The first prerequisite to unallotment is that the Commissioner of Finance “determines that probable receipts for the general fund will be less than anticipated, and that the amount available for the remainder of the biennium will be less than needed…”

I don’t know whether that condition existed at the time of Gov. Pawlenty’s announcement but I’m positive that that condition currently exists. In other words, even if Judge Gearin’s ruling stands, Gov. Pawlenty will be able to unallot the minute the TRO expires.

In other words, if Minnesota’s Supreme Court rules that Gov. Pawlenty should’ve waited until a deficit existed, the point would be moot in this instance. It appears as though the minute a deficit appears AND the budget reserve is exhausted, the governor has the authority to unallot.

UPDATE: King’s post on what Judge Gearin’s ruling means is today’s must reading.

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10 Responses to “Unallotment Reaction”

  • R-Five says:

    To hear the DFL tell it, Gov. Pawlenty has the money, just won’t spend it. I’m sympathetic with the Court’s ruling in that Pawlenty may indeed have acted prematurely. But it never should have come to this.

    Barring another “override six” / Ben Nelson / “health impact fee” embarrassment, the GOP House and Governor still stand firmly in the way of new revenue via new taxation.

    Therefore, the DFL must cut something else and they could have gone to the Governor to make that swap, months ago in fact. If they truly think this was an urgent need, they could have got the money to those “needy” that much sooner.

    But of course, this is all politics. The DFL wants the issue, tyring to emulate the “I’m not Bush” script.

  • Gary Gross says:

    R, You’re EXACTLY RIGHT!!! They could’ve passed any number of the GOP’s reforms, which would’ve saved the state tens of millions of dollars, which would’ve saved GAMC & this program.

    I’ll add that the DFL bargained in bad faith, hoping to force a tax increase during a special session & possibly even using a government shutdown to get their tax increase.

  • Joe Doakes says:

    The judge made up her ruling out of whole cloth. Bad decision.

    The crux of her ruling is that Pawlenty signed the spending bills knowing the revenue for them wasn’t there at the time, then used unallotment when the revenue didn’t show up in a form he could live with.

    She’s saying he was Constitutionally required to veto the spending bills when presented rather than sign them and hope the Legislature might come up acceptable revenue bills.

    That unfairly shifts the power to the Legislature. It can time when they send legislation to the Governor and box him in. He must sign or veto within a short time and they know it.

    If they send spending bills in April but wait until 11:59 of the last day of May to pass a revenue bill, the Governor would be forced to choose between vetoing spending bills that might eventually would have been funded, or forced to sign whatever spending bill is sent at the last second.

    The judge’s ruling cites no Constitutional provision, no law, no case, saying the Governor must act that way. This is a political fight between the legislative and executive branches. Absent clear and convincing law showing the Governor acted wrongly, the court should have kicked it back to them.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Joe, Thanks for framing the argument this way. Stop back often, especially after the hearing.


  • Walter Hanson says:

    The thing is at the time the governor acted there was a budget deficit. Revenues as projected weren’t going to exceed spending. Since the governor on his own can’t increase taxes he had to cut spending.

    Furthermore by announcing the cuts so early we have the chance for:

    * If people don’t like the spending cuts to restore them by cutting something else.

    * To allow people to properly plan for spending cuts. If we get to few dollars left to cut and less time to cut you have horrible cuts in programs which we’re trying to protect.

    * And is it constitutional for a judge to order Minnesota to deficit spend when the constitution says we have to have a balance budget?

    Walter Hanson
    Minneapolis, MN

  • R-Five says:

    One other question: exactly how does the State do short term borrowing if the State constitution insists on a balanced budget. We can borrow money we don’t have but can’t spend money we don’t have?

  • Gary Gross says:

    R, That’s probably a question best directed at King. I’d hate to give a wrong answer.

  • eric z. says:

    Which of those people interpreting the opinion lawyers?

    And Brod, she misstates who sued.

    Can you trust that? People who had the meal program they needed as a health matter Pawlentyized where the plaintiffs.

    The legislature was amicus.

  • eric z. says:

    Do you have a link for the Kiffmeyer quote? Would you give it in a comment? Is it her full statement?

  • eric z. says:

    Quick poll – Gary and other commenters:

    How many went to the Minnesota Constitution and read some of it before commenting.

    I did.

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