Gov. Mark Dayton, a former state auditor, on Thursday said the Minnesota Supreme Court should weigh in on a 2015 that privatized county audits following a recent ruling by a lower-level court that upheld the statute.

Dayton's comments on the case come after a Friday ruling by a Ramsey County District Court that ruled against State Auditor Rebecca Otto in her bid to overturn the law. She intends to appeal the decision. 

"It's a very important, constitutional question that should be decided by the Supreme Court," Dayton told reporters after an executive council meeting, adding that the lower-court ruling was an "unfortunate decision."

Judge Lezlie Ott Marek last week said the statute does not undercut what she called "an essential core function" of the state auditor's office: to audit state spending by Minnesota counties.

"The county audit statute does not divest the (state auditor's office) of its core function of auditing counties," Marek ruled. "While the county audit statute allows counties to initially decide who performs the audit, the (state auditor's office) retains supervision and ultimate authority over all such audits."

The Legislature in 2015 approved the change as part of high-level negotiations between legislative leaders, including the policy change in a massive budget bill. Otto, a DFLer, also challenged the legislative process in her lawsuit.

Otto on Thursday defended her decision to appeal the decision, saying she had pledged an oath to defend the office. She vowed to press on. 

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