Ah those Minnesota Democrats. When you thought they were manipulative, here come the judges. Back in May, the Wall Street Journal called Minnesota’s Governor Tim Pawlenty “deft and amusing” when he showed his state legislature who’s boss by exercising the power of “unallotment,” at the end of the legislative session.
Well it’s baaack.
I raved about the decision here but in sum: Local Dems sent Pawlenty a load of spending bills at the 11th hour to force Pawlenty into a special session and negotiate. He didn’t and instead called up this unallotment phrase from dusty legal documents of old. Essentially it said the governor is allowed to take away any state spending for which there is no money to pay. This brilliant move on Pawlenty’s part enabled him to balance the budget and actually reduce the size of the state’s government.
Fast forward to December. Last Wednesday, according to the Star Tribune, Ramsey County District Court Judge Kathleen Gearin “ruled on a lawsuit by recipients of a low-income nutrition program, whose funding Pawlenty cut using a power called unallotment.” Apparently she “ordered $5.3 million in funding for the program reinstated pending a hearing in March.”
As you can imagine, Pawlenty’s not too happy about that on multiple levels. At a news conference, he said the judge had “inserted herself into a political dispute” and “that degree of involvement by the court is concerning, to say the least.”
I’m no lawyer but it sounds to me like the judge is making up legal reasons to interfere in what was a controversial–yet did I mention, brilliant?–political decision.
The political and legal battle will be yet another reason to watch Tim Pawlenty.