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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Linda Runbeck (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Linda Runbeck

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

In my last email update, I shared information regarding a recent report from the Legislative Auditor investigating claims of fraud in the state’s Childcare Assistance Program (CCAP).

While the investigation could not substantiate claims that $100 million worth of fraud existed, the report revealed that there is widespread agreement among folks within DHS that a substantial amount of fraud exists in the CCAP program.

In response to the report, House Republicans unveiled a package of proposals to combat fraud, waste, and abuse in CCAP.

Our legislative package contains nearly 50 changes to state law and includes a dozen proposal from Democrats. Here are the key goals of the package:

  1. Increase penalties and consequences for committing fraud to send a strong message to fraudsters that the state will not tolerate this criminal behavior.
  2. Provide better controls on the front end to prevent fraud from occurring in the first place. Simply put, it is too easy for those who want to do wrong to defraud Minnesota taxpayers.
  3. Give additional tools to investigators to aid in their investigations, and to prosecutors to ensure fraudsters are brought to justice.
  4. Eliminate eligibility for those found to have committed fraud, require enhanced eligibility checks from the Department of Human Services, and direct savings from eligibility checks to the Health Care Access Fund.
  5. The legislative auditor recommended that the Office of Inspector General become an independent entity. The proposal includes that recommendation.

It’s clear that we have a serious problem with fraud and I urge Democrats to join us in working to restore integrity in our public programs.

House DFL Releases Transportation Plan

On Tuesday, House DFLers unveiled their transportation funding plan which includes a 70% gas tax increase.

This massive 70% gas tax increase will hurt family budgets and raise the cost of everyday good and services throughout Minnesota. House Republicans showed you can make responsible investments in roads and bridges without increasing the gas tax last session when we delivered the largest transportation budget in state history without a gas tax hike. Senate Republicans have a much more sensible approach: invest in roads and bridges using the tax dollars Minnesotans are already giving us.

Simply put, we don't need to be raising the gas tax when Minnesota has a budget surplus.

I will be offering a handful of amendments to the bill when it’s heard in committee later this week—one of which will require a study on business operations at Metro Transit. I am very concerned about the number of dollars we spend each year on overtime for bus drivers. Instead of spending so much on overtime, we should look to hire more drivers to deal with the shortages that already exist.

I am also planning on introducing an amendment that seeks to speed up the process of applying for a driver license. I have heard from a number of constituents that have had issues scheduling driving tests and it is my hope that such an amendment would help make the process smoother and quicker for folks.

Higher Education Bill

On Wednesday, the House DFL released its Higher Education omnibus bill. The bill includes, among other things, funding for the University of Minnesota and MNSCU system.

Anyone that has attended college or helped someone pay their way through college understands that rising tuition rates have placed a serious financial burden on Minnesotans and their families.

In hopes of combatting that problem, I offered an amendment in committee that would require the University of Minnesota and MNSCU to produce a report detailing how they would achieve a ten percent reduction in administrative costs. Each report must identify with specificity the proposed reductions that are necessary to achieve an overall ten percent reduction.

This would go a long way in helping bring down costs at our universities.

Staying in Touch

I will have more information for you about what’s going on at the Capitol as the session progresses. Until then, have a great weekend!

Please know you're always welcome to stop in and see what's happening at the Legislature. My phone number is 651-296-2907 or you can reach me via email at rep.linda.runbeck@house.mn.

Have a great weekend!

Linda

 

 

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