And the session just got more interesting.

The state supreme court has just issued a ruling stating Governor Pawlenty exceeded his authority in unalloting last June to balance the state budget.

It is unknown at this time how the ruling will impact the remainder of the legislative session, set to adjourn on May 17th.  For example, not yet known is how much responsibility the legislature will have to make up the $2.7 billion Gov. Pawlenty unalloted.

In addition, yesterday the governor announced another budget-balancing plan that does not include the anticipated $408 million in federal Medicaid money the governor, House, and Senate had been including in their budget proposals.   Pawlenty stated the legislature should  follow his lead and balance the budget or he would do it himself.  His ability to take care of the budget himself has just been thrown into doubt.

Pawlenty had threatened before the end of the 2009 legislative session to unallot if the legislature could not reach agreement on a budget deal.  The legislature sent him budget bills  and tax bills to balance the budget; the governor line-item vetoed the budget bills and fully vetoed the tax bills, leaving the budget unbalanced.

In June 2009, Gov. Pawlenty unalloted $2.7 billion to balance the budget.

The action was challenged by recipients of Minnesota Supplemental Aid — Special Diet.  The challenge was affirmed by a Ramsey County District Court judge.  In her opinion, Judge Kathleen Gearin upheld the constitutionality of unallotment but ruled the governor exceeded his authority in using unallotment in this particular manner, because the budget deficit was not unknown beforehand and the usual processes (ie, a special session of the legislature) were not allowed to play out.

The governor appealed this decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court.  That ruling is what we have before us today.

We will post updates as they become available.

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