St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - The State Supreme Court has ruled the state constitution allows the Governor to veto funding for the legislature, but left open the question of whether leaving the legislature without funds is constitutional.

The Minnesota Supreme Court today ruled Governor Mark Dayton did not exceed his constitutional authority when he used his line item veto power to erase funding for the operation of the state legislature from the current state budget. The move by the governor shortly after the end of a brief special session in May, sparked a separation of powers dispute that led to a lawsuit that argued Dayton’s vetoes were unconstitutional because they restricted the legislative branch of the state government from fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities.

The dispute will now head to mediation. The Supreme Court issued an order requiring the governor and legislative leaders to work with a mediator, selected either by the two parties or the court, on an agreement allowing for the operation of the legislature. In its ruling validating the governor’s authority to veto the funding for the legislature, which reversed an earlier ruling by the State Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court justices also questioned the constitutionality of a district court judge’s approval of a stipulation agreement that provided continued funding for the legislative branch while the situation was being considered by the court.

Shortly after the ruling was released, Governor Dayton issued the following statement.

“I am very pleased that my Constitutional right to line-item veto certain appropriations for the Minnesota House and Senate, for FY 18 & 19, was upheld by the Minnesota Supreme Court. I am also pleased that the Supreme Court ordered the Legislature and myself to ‘participate in good-faith efforts to resolve this dispute through mediation.’ I proposed just such a remedy, when I issued my veto letter on May 30, 2017. Instead, the Legislative Leaders chose to try to avoid this negotiated solution through litigation.

“I remain ready and very willing to engage in those negotiations immediately. I have asked my legal team to contact their legislative counterparts to begin to resolve this matter.”

The Supreme Court order also asks the governor and legislative leaders to weigh in on whether the court can order funding for another branch of the government to meet the constitution’s requirement that citizens be represented by all three branches of government. They are also being asked to come up with estimates of how much carry-over funding is available to the state legislature and when that money is expected to run out.

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