Clark Calls Pawlenty ‘rogue Governor’

A column penned by the assistant Minnesota Senate majority leader may signal how Democrats will react to Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s unilateral cutting of state budgets.

Sen. Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud, wrote that the Republican governor is improperly using his unallotment powers, the authority in law for him to cut budgets when there is not enough revenue to pay for everything lawmakers approved.

"What the crafters of the unallotment law didn’t anticipate was a rogue governor who would choose to act in bad faith, as Pawlenty has done," Clark wrote. "Pawlenty refused meaningful negotiations, made impossible demands for clearly imprudent accounting stunts like borrowing to pay ongoing expenses, and vetoed reasonable attempts by the Legislature to make cuts and increase revenue."

The headline she placed on her column called the governor’s actions a "power grab."

Republican lawmakers and Pawlenty, on the other hand, say the Democratic-controlled Legislature passed spending bills that fell $3 billion short of available revenue. And, the GOP side says, Pawlenty made it clear that he would not accept tax increases included in a last-minute bill; the governor long has said he opposes state tax increases.

Clark said that the unallotment law is for emergency use only: "During a financial crisis occurring between legislative sessions, a governor, acting prudently and in consultation with a key legislative commission, would make needed adjustments to hold the budget together until the legislature and governor could again pass legislation to balance the budget."

Using unallotment essentially makes Pawlenty "the sole decision-maker over funding for activities under the state’s general fund,." Clark said.