Since taking office last January, the Walz Administration and their Department of Human Services (DHS) have consistently demonstrated an unwillingness to root out waste, fraud, and abuse within public programs at DHS.

Earlier this year, the non-partisan legislative auditor released a report detailing waste, fraud and, abuse in DHS’ Childcare Assistance Program (CCAP).

In the months following the report, the top three officials at DHS resigned, including Commissioner Tony Lourey. To date, we still have not received any explanation from the administration as to why these officials abruptly resigned.

With Health and Human Services (HHS) representing Minnesota’s largest budget area at 30 percent of the state’s spending – nearly $17 billion over two years. It should come as no surprise that DHS is the largest agency in the state. The agency is responsible for administering programs like Medicaid, MinnesotaCare, the Childcare Assistance Fund, MFIB, and SNAP.

Given the size and scope of the department, it is simply unacceptable that we have received no explanation regarding these departures.

More problems continue to plague the agency as just this week, we learned that DHS will need to reimburse the federal government $48 million as a result of improper payments to institutions for mental disease. This follows revelations that the state was involved in impermissible billing with two Minnesota tribal nations that will require state taxpayers to reimburse the federal government for $25 million.

Taken together, these two instances alone will cost Minnesota taxpayers $73 million.

This egregious display of mismanagement by the Walz administration and DHS needs to be corrected. To date, Speaker Hortman and House Democrats have shown little interest in examining the problems at DHS.

That’s why I am urging Governor Walz to initiate a complete, independent audit of all DHS spending. This audit would be similar to the one used to investigate the problems with MNLARS.

I am confident that the results of this audit would save taxpayers far more money than any costs that may be incurred by the study. It’s time for the governor and Democrats to get serious about these issues. Taxpayers cannot afford to wait any longer.

Minn. Rep. Jeff Backer (R-Browns Valley)

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