MN House checks power distribution

The House expressed support for the unallotment lawsuit against Pawlenty.

Yesterday, members of the Minnesota House of Representatives Rules Committee voted 14-8 along party lines to file a brief supporting a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Gov. Tim PawlentyâÄôs announced spending unallotments. It is a shame none of the GOP members of the committee joined their DFL colleagues in taking this action. Unallotment raises troubling questions about the separation of powers in our state; the authority to raise and appropriate revenues is constitutionally entrusted to the Legislature, not a unilateral executive. The unallotment process was created to allow the governor to deal with unanticipated revenue shortfalls after a balanced budget has been enacted. The $2.7 billion shortfall that Pawlenty has eliminated through unallotment was entirely expected and was, in fact, deliberately created. The Legislature sent Pawlenty a balanced budget at the end of last session, only to see him agree to the spending levels but veto the tax plan, which would have raised income taxes only on top earners. Instead of calling the Legislature back to St. Paul to find a workable compromise, Pawlenty instead forced a constitutional crisis by invoking the arcane âÄúunallotmentâÄù to slash the budget alone. This should not be a partisan issue. It is fundamentally about the proper role of our elected legislators. Republicans would not want a future DFL governor to wield unchecked power. This lawsuit will ultimately define the balance of our state government and the extent of the governorâÄôs authority; win or lose, the Rules Committee was right to file its supporting brief.