Lawsuit challenges Pawlenty's budget cuts

A lawsuit filed in Ramsey County District Court says Gov. Tim Pawlenty exceeded his constitutional authority by making unilateral spending cuts.

Galen Robinson, an attorney for the Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance, said the lawsuit challenges two specific spending cuts - funding for low-income Minnesotans who are on special diets and funding for a renter's property tax refund.

Robinson said Pawlenty could have called lawmakers back to fix the state's budget problem or waited until next year to fix it.

"The two branches of government -- the legislative and executive -- have a responsibility to work together to resolve problems," Robinson said. "The governor can call the Legislature back into special session to resolve disputes and finish legislation. He chose not to do this although there was time to do it."

Pawlenty balanced the budget on his own after he failed to reach a budget agreement with DFLers during the legislative session. A Ramsey County judge is considering another lawsuit challenging Pawlenty's budget cut of the political contribution refund.

A Pawlenty spokesman said the governor is confident in his legal authority to utilize unallotment to balance the state budget.

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