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Updated 10:40 a.m.: Minn. high court rules against Pawlenty unallottment budget cuts

ST. PAUL - The Minnesota Supreme Court says Gov. Tim Pawlenty was wrong when he made unilateral budget cuts last summer.

The ruling, released this morning, only covered a $5.3 million program that provided special diets to Minnesotans who could not afford the food ordered by doctors.

The court decision was not unanimous, with three justices dissenting.

It was unclear whether the ruling could affect more of the $2.7 billion that Pawlenty cut after he and legislators did not agree on a balanced budget a year ago.

Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- The Minnesota Supreme Court has dealt Gov. Tim Pawlenty a significant blow by ruling he exceeded his authority when he cut $5.3 million from a state program, in a decision that raises questions about $2.7 billion in budget cuts.

Wednesday's ruling means Pawlenty and state lawmakers may see a current deficit grow, perhaps to $3.4 billion.

The ruling affirms a lower court decision against the Republican governor's use of his unallotment power in a 2009 budget fix.

The case before the court dealt specifically with Pawlenty's cuts to a nutrition program for elderly and disabled adults. It wasn't immediately clear how it will affect other programs affected by Pawlenty's much larger spending cuts last summer.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.