On Wednesday, the Minnesota Senate Finance Committee held an oversight hearing into recent reports of fiscal mismanagement at the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) that contributed to almost 2,000 violations of state over the past year. According to the Star Tribune, DHS entered into thousands of illegal contracts – amounting to more than $52 million in the last year – that appear to be in violation of state law. In total, 32 state agencies had contracting violations over the past year.
In response, Senator Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson) issued the following statement:
“This is a state agency that made $29 million in Medicaid overpayments to tribal nations, $48 million in improper payments to chemical dependency treatment facilities, and routinely paid vendors for work before a signed contract was even in place. These are unacceptable breaches of the public trust – and the latest in a list of highly questionable behavior by state agencies. We’ve seen this happen repeatedly across our state government over the past several years – and people need to be held accountable. This is just outrageous.
“State agencies are part of the executive branch; the legislature can provide oversight, but ultimate responsibility lies with the governor. The law clearly says ‘[a payment] made in violation of this chapter […] is just cause for the employee’s removal.’ The governor must take swift and immediate action to make absolutely sure this behavior stops.”
Senator Scott Newman represents communities in McLeod, Meeker, Sibley, and Wright counties in the Minnesota Senate. He serves as chair of the Senate Transportation Finance and Policy Committee.