Watchdog Organization Seeks Injunctive Relief in State Funding Fight

The Association for Government Accountability has filed a notice of intervention in the case against Dayton.

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Image Credit: Preya Samsundar/Alpha News

ST. PAUL, Minn. — “Our state is in danger of becoming a constitutional laughingstock,” Erick Kaardal, said at Monday’s press conference.

Kaardal, who represents the Association for Government Accountability (AGA) filed a notice of intervention calling for the courts to overturn its ruling in approving temporary funding predetermined by the lawyers for the legislature and Governor Mark Dayton.

AGA filed suit in June following the end of the legislative year to ensure Minnesota lawmakers receive their pay raise.

At the end of session, Dayton used his authority to line-item veto the budget for the Minnesota House and Senate.

Both sides appeared in Ramsey County Court at the end of June asking Chief Judge John H. Guthmann to grant temporary funding to the legislative branch, which was granted as the legislative and executive branch fight it out in court.

“It’s constitutionally absurd,” Kaardal said in reference to the court’s role in legislative funding. He argues while state funding is a decision made solely between the executive and legislative branches, due to their difference in opinion, both have opted to include the judicial branch in making the final determination over funding.

“The Governor and the state legislature by introducing such a stipulation to the Court invited the Court into political questions where the Court has no subject matter jurisdiction since legislating appropriations is the responsibility of the legislative and executive branches of government, not the judiciary,” the notice of intervention states. During the June hearing, lawyers and the judge noted that the court may violate the separation of power clause.

Kaardal argues that the people of Minnesota made a decision in November to approve a legislative pay council to determine if and when members of the Minnesota legislature deserve a raise. The council made the decision to grant a $14,000 raise to the current salaries of state legislators.

The Senate has embraced the constitutionally-mandated pay raise. As of July 1, the pay for Minnesota senators went up to $45,000 a year per the council’s decision. Meanwhile, the House remains at the previous salary due to objections of House Speaker Kurt Daudt according to MPR.

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