DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman told the Minnesota Reformer that her caucus will look to spend $500 Million of the budget surplus on early childhood development to include an "expansion of the Child Care Assistance Program, the troubled CCAP program that got a bad audit last year."
A "bad audit" doesn't even scratch the surface. The CCAP program made news a year ago when a Fox 9 investigation revealed that $100 Million of taxpayer money a year is being fraudulently used by child care centers and sent as cash overseas to Somalia. The Legislative Auditor found systemic issues with how the Dept of Human Services monitored the program, but his jurisdiction did not allow him to trace the stolen money past the state of Minnesota.
Last year, the DFL House and Republican Senate fully funded the fraudulent child care program by voting for a thousand page Health & Human Services Omnibus bill at 5 am in the morning on Memorial Day weekend. Apparently that funding wasn't enough for Speaker Hortman.
On Monday, the Campaign Finance Board released the annual reports of political committees in the state of Minnesota and we found several child care providers who donated to the DFL House Caucus' committee.
Action 4 Liberty calls on the legislature to end the fraudulent child care program. When half a program is going to fraud, it can't be saved. Plus, government should not be paying for people's child care in the first place.
Republicans are falling behind their DFL counterparts in campaign cash in a big way according to newly released Campaign Finance Board Reports. The Republican Party of Minnesota raised $523k in 2019, while their counterparts, the MN DFL Central Committee, raised $3.6 Million for the year. However, both committees began the year with only $100k in cash.
How did the DFL burn through so much cash? They hired a lot of staff. In fact, the committee paid out a total of $66k in health insurance benefits alone.
In the Minnesota House, the House Republican Campaign Committee run by Minority leader and lobbyist Kurt Daudt, hauled in $936k and has only $318k cash on hand. Meanwhile, the DFL House Caucus raised $1.6 Million and is sitting on cash of $1.2 Million going into election season. This 4 to 1 cash advantage will he an enormous factor in Daudt's ability to win back the Minnesota House which flipped in 2018 in a massive blue wave.
One saving grace for Team Red is that the Republican Senate Victory Fund raised the same amount, $1.3 Million, as their DFL counterparts in the Senate. But the DFL is beginning the election year with only $686k in cash, while the Republicans have a healthy bank account with $2.1 Million in cash.
To add to the problems of the DFL Senate Minority, there's turmoil at the helm. Over the weekend, the caucus ousted Tom Back as leader and chose a suburban Senator from Woodbury: Sen Susan Kent.
Action 4 Liberty believes the fundraising disadvantages, which have been commonplace for several years, is due in part to Republican legislators not delivering on issues important to the Republican base. For instance, Democrats in the House passed gun control bills and drivers license for illegals. But when Republicans were in charge in 2017-18, pro-gun bills like Constitutional carry and Stand-Your-Ground got no traction. The Republican House instead grew government, took out more debt and bailed out health insurance companies with taxpayer money.
The politically-connected class always seems to get away with things. If you or I break a law, we're likely to suffer the legal consequence. But the St Paul Swamp dwellers get separate treatment, or at least it appears that way according to a newly published audit by the DHS Internal Audit Office (IAO).
IAO was investigating the Behavioral Health Division (BHD) based on whistleblower complaints of laws not being followed, conflicts of interest among DHS staff and careless or suspect vetting of grant recipients.
The report concluded "BHD management and staff did not always follow Minnesota Statutes or OGM and DHS policies when it comes to conflicts of interest". IAO recommended mandatory staff training to solve the issue.
IAO also found that BHD advanced funds to 74% of the grantees investigated without sufficient justification. This made DHS susceptible to having taxpayer money misspent.
The Minnesota Senate Republicans will host a special committee hearing on Tuesday in Hibbing to hear two gun control bills deeply embedded in the Democrat agenda. The Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove) will hear two of Sen. Ron Latz' bills (DFL-St Louis Park): red flag legislation and universal background checks.
This move is seen by most Capitol observers as a political ploy by the Senate Republicans to hear two anti-gun bills in a strong pro-gun rights district, to showcase the disapproval by the populace for the bills. But hearing these bills allows the anti-gun community to show progress for their movement. It will serve as a rallying point for the gun control community as seen by the Bloomberg funded Minnesota groups on their social media pages.
The Judiciary Committee announced that they will also hear a couple pro-gun rights bills in the same hearing: Stand-Your-Ground legislation and Constitutional Carry. However, these bills also will be used as a political ploy and will not likely get any further action from the Senate despite Republicans having a three person majority. According to the Committee's webpage, the hearing is informational only and no votes will take place.
Action 4 Liberty believes that gun control bills should not receive any "moment in the sun" when Republicans are in control at the Capitol. It's time they start delivering on their campaign promises and get a vote on Constitutional Carry and Stand-Your-Ground.
$100 Million of taxpayer money is being stolen from the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) and sent in suitcases of cash to Somalia. I'm sure you've heard the headline by now and seen the Fox 9 story that broke nearly two years ago. Fraud at this level would certainly warrant shutting down a program...or at least, ensuring future taxpayer money is being properly accounted for by the Minnesota Dept of Human Services (DHS).
In fact, DHS is required by law to ensure our tax money is being utilized properly in the Child Care Assistance Program. According to State Statute 245H which regulates certified license-exempt child care centers (defined as centers that receive child care assistance payments), "the commissioner must conduct an on-site inspection of a certified license-exempt child care center at least annually". When pressed back in early December by Rep Jeremy Munson (R-Lake Crystal) how many of these inspections were conducted in the 90 days since Jodi Harpstead became Commissioner of DHS, she responded with "I don't know the current state of how often we visit every child care center in Minnesota, so I'll have to find that out and let you know".
We reached out to Rep Munson to see if his office had received an answer from the Commissioner. As of January 17th, Commissioner Harpstead has yet to respond. The statute also requires the Commissioner to "make publicly available on the department's website the results of inspection reports for all certified centers". We were unable to find this on the DHS website.
As the Governor and Republican Senate reveal their vision for the 2020 Legislative Session, absent from the conversation is what either side will do to combat the fraud. They appear to think this isn't even a problem anymore. But how can Minnesota taxpayers rest assured that our money isn't being ripped off if DHS isn't making these visits?
Of all the priorities for an incoming Commissioner to the state's largest, most bloated agency, how is this not priority #1? Imagine a CEO of a corporation who had a division under her watch that was bleeding money due to theft. How could anyone justify that CEO keep her job if she wasn't immediately focused on fixing the theft or ending that division?
Want results?! SIGN THE PETITION to End the Child Care Fraud!
Less than a year after Governor Walz and the Legislature enacted the largest budget in Minnesota history, the Swamp in St Paul is already asking for more. Walz announced this week that he wants to put an additional $2 Billion on the state credit card and spend another $500 Million of the state surplus this year.
Here's the list of items Walz thinks Minnesota taxpayers should go into debt to pay for:
- $276 million for affordable housing
- $300 million for clean water projects
- $447 million proposal to invest in facilities for the state’s colleges and universities
- $11 million to build a 1.25‐mile elevated walkway for visitors to the Minnesota State Zoo’s oak forest
- $30 million to acquire lands for scientific and natural areas, state parks, forests, and the pheasant summit action plan
- $5.8 million to develop campgrounds at Lake Vermilion Soudan Underground Mine State Park
- $12 million for grants primarily to local governments to install a network of electric vehicle charging infrastructure
- $10 million for a grant to the City of Bloomington to build a 22,000-square-foot addition to the existing Center for the Arts
- $9.728 million for a grant to the Chatfield Economic Development Authority to complete the modernization of the Chatfield Center for the Arts
- $100,000 to design, construct, and equip a greenhouse at the veterans home in Fergus Falls
- See the full list
Do you get the picture??
Bonding bills are the vehicle for politicians in the St Paul Swamp to bring home the pork. Despite having a massive $3 Billion budget surplus, Governor Walz aims to help all his political friends bring home the pork by putting it on our credit card.
Minnesota taxpayers are on the hook for $100 Million of child care fraud every year in the state's Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). Last year, Fox 9 broke the news that this massive scam was not being properly investigated by DHS and resulted in suitcases of cash leaving our country, heading to Somalia. Since the story broke, the Minnesota Dept of Human Services moved the failed Inspector General, Carolyn Ham, to another department with full pay and benefits.
Action 4 Liberty reported that at 5 am in the morning during last year's Special Session on Memorial Day weekend, the legislature fully funded the fraudulent child care program. Politicians made minor reforms to combat the fraud, which will not stop the program. The CCAP program amounts to about $250 Million a year (federal, state and county funding), so nearly half the program is being abused. That's why we've called for an end to the program immediately. SIGN OUR PETITION.
So what do Republicans and Democrats have to say about the child care fraud as they prepare for the 2020 Legislative Session?
In an interview with Minnpost, when Governor Walz was asked about the status of DHS he stated "we did not have the processes in place to make sure that we’re following rules. Now some of those rules are complex and maybe archaic. But that’s no excuse for not doing them." Walz appeared open to the idea of splitting up DHS, but made no mention of what he'd do to stop the child care fraud in particular.
Senate Republicans rolled out their 2020 Vision yesterday. The stated priorities were "Working Together", Health Care, Clean Energy, Clean Water, "Taking Care of People" to name a few. Absent from their vision was combatting the massive child care fraud by eliminating the CCAP program. Senate Republicans mentioned holding DHS accountable by "including a proposal to move the Office of Inspector General outside the agency to give them more autonomy."
Why is this issue absent from the 2020 objective of both parties? Are they so naive as to think that the fraud has magically gone away? When Rep Jeremy Munson questioned the new DHS Commissioner in November about how many child care facilities they've visited to ensure there is no fraud, she did not have an answer.
Action 4 Liberty, along with thousands of petition signers from across the state, call for an end to the fraudulent child care assistance program. Any entity plagued with this amount of fraud cannot be fixed; it must be ended to ensure taxpayer money is not being abused.
Senate Republicans released their 2020 Legislative Priorities this morning announcing that they would be giving back a small portion of the $3 Billion of surplus, while holding onto the rest of it for government spending projects. A budget surplus occurs when taxpayers have been overcharged - revenues far exceeded current spending levels. The largest part of the surplus sits in a historically high reserve account.
If Republicans would give back the surplus, individual taxpayers could receive a refund of $1,250 each. At today's press conference, Gazelka stated they only wanted to give "some of it back". The "some" part was defined as farm relief and social security tax elimination. However, the largest part of the surplus, the reserve account, would remain in place under Gazelka's watch.
"We talked about ensuring that the reserves stay full" stated Gazelka when responding to a question from the media about what would be done with the surplus. This means that a record $2.5 Billion would remain in the government coffers earmarked for future wasteful government spending projects and not back in the hands of the private economy.
Action 4 Liberty calls for every penny of the surplus to be returned to the taxpayers! We were overcharged by our government and have a rightful claim to get it back. Sign our petition and send them a message!
Democrat Governor Tim Walz wants the taxpayers of Minnesota to go further into debt to pay for government subsidized housing. In one of his most radical ideas to date, the Governor proposed a massive $2 Billion bonding (debt) bill that spends $276 Million on affordable housing.
Why is the state government involved in housing in the first place? Well, according to Walz' Housing Commissioner Jennifer Ho, "we believe the role of government is to produce housing where the private market won’t do it on its own." What's even more egregious about this proposal, however, is that Ho and Walz are asking for taxpayers to pay for this on the state credit card over the next decade.
In a way, Walz wants Minnesota taxpayers to take out a mortgage for someone else's home.
So far, Senate Republicans have signaled that Walz' bonding proposal is too big. But after the legislators in both parties embarked on a recent statewide debt tour, it's likely Senate Republicans will come out with a billion dollar proposal of their own. Which means, Minnesota taxpayers will likely get stuck with a massive debt bill somewhere in between.
Action 4 Liberty believes that its not the proper role of government to subsidize housing, especially when its financed on the government credit card. Republicans in St Paul should oppose debt, not propose it. Walz and Democrats' master goal is to grow government at the mercy of the taxpayer. This is what Republicans need to fight tooth and nail against.
Former Republican Rep Nick Zerwas, who resigned from office in December and immediately took a job in "government affairs" for a lobbying firm, has broken Minnesota House rules by registering as a lobbyist at the Capitol. A recent registration with the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board shows Zerwas is officially a registered lobbyist.
Minnesota House Rule 9.35 has a ban on lobbying for one year. According to the rule, "former state legislators must not register as lobbyists within one year from the date they leave office." It's unlikely Zerwas will be held accountable since Republican Minority Leader Kurt Daudt also recently took a job with a DC lobbying firm.
Will this blatant disregard to the rules finally get members of the Old House Republican Caucus publicly condemning Zerwas? Up to this point there was a swampy tradition where legislators resign from office or don't seek re-election to go work for lobbying firms in their "public affairs" or "government affairs" divisions. Former Majority Leader Joyce Peppin did not seek re-election in 2018 because she was also taking on a new role in public affairs. However, Zerwas is the first to actually register as a lobbyist.
Even before Zerwas' registration, Rep Jim Nash, a fellow member of the Old House Republican Caucus, quickly took to twitter to joke about Zerwas' new lobbying gig. Nash tweeted, "so do I keep candy in my desk drawer in the SOB for meetings with you now?"; making fun of the newest legislator-turned-lobbyist scam at the Capitol.