May 12, 2010

A  power struggle between Minnesota’s legislature and the state’s Governor-a struggle recently moderated by Minnesota’s high court– is unfolding, and modern questions about one of America’s ancient political bulwarks, the separation of powers, arise.  On May 5, 2010, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and other state officials could not use a state unallotment statute to reduce allotments made by the state legislature.  Governor Pawlenty made these unallotments, totaling over 2 billion dollars, in an attempt to balance Minnesota’s budget in 2009 after the legislature and executive branch failed to enact a balanced budget.  

The statute in question is: Minn.Stat. § 16A.152, and the case in question is, Brayton v. Pawlenty, et al.  (The case is available at 2010 WL 1780074.)  The Brayton plaintiffs were six Minnesota residents that qualified for aid under a Minnesota Supplemental Aid Special Diet program, and the plaintiffs challenged the validity of the unallotments that reduced funding for the special diet program.  The Brayton court held that the unallotments affecting the Special Diet program violated the separation of powers, and the practical effect of the Brayton opinion will be to nullify the governor’s entire package of unallotments. 

A flurry of news coverage, editorials, and opinion articles followed the Minnesota Supreme Court Opinion.  These materials are on Westlaw and WestlawNext, and given the lofty political and governmental implications of this ongoing battle between two branches of government, a very simple search will retrieve results. Those interested, can simply search “Pawlenty unallotment”  on WestlawNext in the News content database, and sort by date.  

Content: News

Jurisdiction: None