Heading into Monday's Supreme Court hearing on Gov. Mark Dayton's appeal, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, was confident the Legislature would prevail.
The next day, after reflecting on the 80 minutes of oral arguments, Gazelka was having doubts.
"I hope in the end they rule that he does not have what I think is extra power," he said.
The power that Gazelka sees as "extra" is an unrestricted line-item veto authority that Dayton and his lawyer contend he always had under the state constitution. The Legislature and its lawyer countered that zeroing out funding for the House and Senate goes too far by harming a co-equal branch of government.
Gazelka doesn't want Dayton or any future governor to do it again.
"We'd have to rethink everything," he said. "How do we work around the fact that he could take away our funding in any budget cycle? So, we would have to have a whole new strategy."
On the balance of power issue, Dayton's lawyer made an argument before the Supreme Court this week that was the exact opposite of the Legislature's claim, saying a ruling against the governor would limit his line-item veto authority and give the House and Senate an advantage in future budget negotiations.
Dayton's vetoes took $130 million away from the Legislature for the next two years. The two sides agreed earlier this summer to keep state money flowing to the House and Senate while they fight out the bigger issues in court, but that agreement expires Oct. 1.
If the lower court ruling stands, the Legislature gets its $130 million.
But if Dayton wins, legislative leaders will face a choice: Do they tap their limited reserve funds to pay the bills until the 2018 session starts in February? Or do they negotiate a deal with the governor on the budget?
Dayton wants lawmakers to undo tax cuts on premium cigars, estates and business property that were in a larger tax bill he signed into law. He also wants to reverse some policy provisions in other bills, including changes made to the teacher licensing system.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R- Zimmerman, still isn't budging.
"He agreed to what was in there. He agreed to it through negotiations. He then signed them into law and then attempted to get us to come back and change those things that he maybe didn't like. It doesn't work like that."
Dayton has also dug in his heels. During a State Fair interview last week, he repeated his pledge to fight the Republican-backed tax cuts that he signed, no matter what happens in court.
"If you take a billion dollars for each year of the next two years out of the state revenues, budget, we'd go from budget surpluses to budget deficits. They're putting Minnesota right on the precipice once again. If I win or lose the Supreme Court decision I'm going to bring that issue back to the Legislature next session."