CUT GOVERNMENT WASTE BEFORE RAISING TAXES
ST. PAUL – As the Minnesota House DFL leadership prepares to pass a budget that increases state spending and taxes by billions of dollars in order to fix our $627 million budget deficit, State Representative Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center) wonders why the majority party isn’t more focused on eliminating fraud and government waste.
“Recent reports show that program and benefit abuse exists in Minnesota,” Cornish said. “Instead of making sure all of our money is being spent effectively, our leadership is ignoring the problem and asking taxpayers for more money.”
Two months ago, a Department of Human Services memo cited five cases of fraud and abuse that resulted in nearly $3 million in overpayments from state government. Cornish said these investigations occurred thanks to the government reform policies approved by the Republican-led legislature last session.
But with new leadership comes relaxed standards. Last month, the Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) issued a report faulting the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) for failing to check the eligibility of participants in a number of public assistance programs that provide medical, cash and food benefit to low-income citizens.
Under state and federal law, agencies are required to verify income levels for participants in the various public assistance programs. The OLA report cited the MinnesotaCare insurance program as having failed to adequately verify the income level of participants.
In addition, despite federal requirements, DHS failed to cross-check and address discrepancies in reported income levels with other government data for the Medical Assistance program, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance food-stamp program.
“This is a double whammy for taxpayers,” Cornish said. “Not only are we paying people to sit around and not do their jobs, we are also doing nothing to take able-bodied people off the dole. Before we ask Minnesotan’s to pay several billion dollars, we should eliminate all potential fraud and government waste that exists within state government. Doing so would help trim our projected deficit and ensure that all of our tax dollars are being spent wisely.”