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Legislative Update (3-21-19)

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Neighbor,

Abuse of our tax dollars is completely unacceptable in any form, but using children to commit fraud – as is happening in Minnesota – is a whole new level of wrong.

The non-partisan Office of the Legislative Auditor has been investigating suspected fraud in the Child Care Assistance Program and last week issued a report confirming what many suspected: Widespread fraud is taking place in the CCAP program and a lack of internal controls at the Department of Human Services is contributing to the problem.

Since then, Inspector General Carolyn Ham has been placed on investigative leave for her role in this concerning situation. At the very least investigators told the OLA that they believed Ham was trying to discredit their work.

Placing Ham on leave is a good first step while more improvements for oversight and transparency are developed. Unfortunately, House Democrats spent the first two and a half months of this session dragging their feet on bills House Republicans have authored to address this issue, failing to hear a single bill related to the subject until this week.

Even the left-leaning Star Tribune’s board is calling for action, with a piece from its editorial board saying, “What Minnesotans are left with is a level of fraud and lack of basic safeguards and data collection that indicate much must be done to re-establish accountability and trust in this program, particularly as regards its largest child care centers.”

House Republicans will continue to fight fraud in all of our public programs and hold the Walz administration accountable for their failure to protect your hard-earned tax dollars. Bills to tighten up CCAP that we have introduced are scheduled for House hearings. This includes:

  • H.F. 445, which creates an independent Office of the Inspector General to provide more transparency and independence in an effort to prevent a similar situation in the future.
  • H.F. 1680, which requires child care providers receiving CCAP payments to keep daily attendance records at the site where services are delivered.

This is just the start and, as I said, we will continue working to get a handle on this child care fraud that is taking place in our state.

Look for more news from the Capitol soon. With only two months left in the session, we are waiting for the House and Senate majorities to put out information on their proposed budget and I will pass along my thoughts on those once that happens.

-Steve

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