Unallotment has limits

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We thought the unprecedented unallotment gambit last year was wrong and illegal and we were pleased to see the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Pawlenty overstepped his authority.

We have weighed in strongly a couple of times as the unallotment debacle unfolded over the last year and we produced a timely MPR commentary this week that raises the larger issue. 

Beyond the Supreme Court’s narrow legal interpretation lies a larger question: Should Minnesota continue its risky experiment with starving and cutting public investment, clinging at all costs to a philosophy of no new taxes? Most moderates and progressives realize that this course is not working, and that growing economic inequality calls for strategic public investments, largely toward educational attainment and business-friendly public works infrastructure. By helping better the condition of people of poor and moderate means, such changes will do good for business, and for all of us.

We also point out that the decision gives little aid or comfort to anti-tax Tea Partiers, who

claim constitutional support for their assertions that the current role and size of our governments, and of taxes themselves, are somehow illegitimate. The majority decision gives no aid or comfort to that proposition. Instead, Justice Alan Page, in his concurring opinion, voices serious concern about a vague unallotment statute that, even when properly used, “leaves the executive branch with virtually unfettered discretion to decide which funds to cut entirely.”