The House will be on a weeklong break for the Easter/Passover holiday beginning on Friday. This legislative break happens every year and gives lawmakers a chance to be back in their districts for a full week to check in with constituents. I plan on using this time to meet with a number of folks across the area to hear their thoughts and concerns about what’s going on in St. Paul.
With just over a month to go in the 2019 legislative session, we still have a long ways to go if we want to get our job done on time. I expect major omnibus finance bills to be up on the House floor the week after we return from our Easter/Passover break. From there, the DFL House and GOP Senate will meet to hash out differences in their respective bills in hopes of reaching a compromise that will be signed into law by Governor Walz.
Complicating things this year is the constitutionally required need to enact a 2-year state budget. Governor Walz and House DFLers have a very different perspective on taxation and spending when compared to the GOP Senate majority.
In fact, when taking into account the entirety of their budget proposal, House Democrats are seeking to raise taxes on Minnesotans by over $12 billion the next four years including harmful tax increases on health care, gas, and so much more.
With a $1 billion budget surplus, these astronomical tax hikes are unnecessary and will wreak havoc on Minnesota family budgets.
The Senate GOP’s budget proposal includes no new tax increases. With such a large gap between the two bodies, it’s clear that end-of-session negotiations may be a bit rocky. Stay tuned for more information on this as session progresses.
CCAP Report Round 2
On Wednesday, the nonpartisan legislative auditor released another report looking into fraud, waste, and abuse in the state’s Childcare Assistance Program (CCAP).
This week’s report focused on evaluating internal controls within the program.
The report detailed numerous issues at the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the county level that have resulted in inadequate program integrity including findings that:
- "DHS and county agencies did not sufficiently leverage independent, external data sources to verify recipient eligibility for CCAP."
- "DHS had weak processes to validate that CCAP provider billings aligned with actual child care provided."
- That the payment system for CCAP (MEC squared) "lacked some key controls to identify errors and to inhibit, track, and recover improper payments."
- "DHS did not implement sufficient program integrity controls for licensing child care providers."
- "DHS did not adequately identify and analyze the risk of fraud in CCAP and had weak processes to coordinate investigations statewide."
I am committed to continuing to work on this issue to ensure we restore integrity to our public programs. Taxpayers deserve much better than what we’ve seen from CCAP and DHS.
Nursing Home Cuts in HHS Bill
I briefly discussed the Health and Human Services (HHS) omnibus bill in last week’s update. This week I wanted to share some additional information from the bill that will have a negative impact on nursing homes in our area and across the state.
Buried in the DFL’s HHS omnibus bill is a provision that cuts funding to nursing homes by more than $68 million. This is just a few years after Republican reforms resulted in increased funding to nursing homes.
News of these devastating cuts is extremely frustrating for nursing home administrators in our area. Our seniors deserve better and I will be fighting to prevent these cuts from being enacted.
That’s all for this week’s update. I will have more for you as the session progresses as it’s sure to be a busy year. In the meantime, I urge you to contact me if you have any legislative questions, concerns, or ideas. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-5356 or via email at email@example.com.
Have a good weekend,