Governor’s office files formal unallotment appeal, seeks quick Supreme Court review

It’s now official: Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s appeal of the unallotment decision by Ramsey County District Court Judge Kathleen Gearin has been filed with the clerk of the appellate courts and Ramsey County Court.

In the heavily documented appeal (PDFs), the governor asks that the Minnesota Supreme Court “take immediate and expedited review” of the judge’s decision that the governor had overstepped his legal authority when he dropped budgeted funding for a small dietary program.

If the Supremes decide not to step in immediately, the governor asks that the state’s Court of Appeals handled the case “in an expedited fashion.”

The plaintiffs in the case and Gearin had previously agreed to the expedited process if clients of the dietary program were able to continue to receive their special allowances.

“More than 70 years ago, the Legislature granted Minnesota governors the authority to unallot, and the district court’s decision misinterpreted that law in key respects,” Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung said in a statement. “We hope the Minnesota Supreme Court will more clearly and directly address this issue.”

In granting a temporary restraining order blocking the unallotment, Gearin said that it was the governor who had misinterpreted his powers under the statute.

That statute, by the way, almost certainly will be rewritten in the upcoming legislative session, to diminish the governor’s unallotment powers.

Though this dispute is over one $5 million program, decisions by the state’s higher courts could have huge ramifications on other, larger unallotments made by the governor.

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