Minnesota lawmakers sue governor over vetoing funding for their paychecks

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 13, 2017 6:20 PM

By Timothy Mclaughlin

(Reuters) - Lawmakers in Minnesota sued the governor on Tuesday saying his veto last month of funding for their paychecks and their staff's pay is unconstitutional, court documents said.

The development is the latest in a feud between leaders in the Republican-controlled legislature and Democratic Governor Mark Dayton that has escalated since last month.

The lawsuit, filed in the Ramsey County Court, claims Dayton has hobbled the ability of lawmakers to work by vetoing nearly $130 million in funding last month for the House and Senate's compensation, benefits and other operating expenses for the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years.

The governor's office declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Without the funding, the legislature is "unable to fulfill their constitutional obligations, will not be able to properly represent their constituents, and the people of the state of Minnesota are deprived of a constitutionally mandated voice in the administration of their government," the complaint said.

Legislative funding covers paychecks for the 201 elected officials as well as about 400 staff and other bills, according to a report from the House's public information system.

The lawsuit is seeking for the funding to be reinstated before July 1, when the new fiscal year begins, court documents said.

Dayton's decision to veto the legislature funding stems from a move earlier this year in which Republican lawmakers linked a package of tax breaks to funding for the state's 1,300 Department of Revenue employees in order to force Dayton to allow the tax package to become law.

Dayton vetoed the legislature funding on May 30 to force lawmakers back to the negotiating table on several other tax measures, including a tobacco tax and estate tax, he said.

Before the lawsuit was filed, Dayton met with Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and Republican Speaker Kurt Daudt on Tuesday morning, but Dayton said there was no movement and no compromise between the two parties.

(Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)