Republican lawmakers are blasting state agency heads for improper contracting practices that violated state law nearly 18-hundred times over the past year. Senator Julie Rosen from Vernon Center says it’s “very, very troubling that there’s this attitude — and now we see it’s an attitude across all the agencies — that we can go ahead and spend whatever we want, and then we’ll get approval, and then we’ll tell you what it’s for. …This has got to change.” Officials at the state Management and Budget Department acknowledge the violations are illegal, but say when state employees report problems, it prevents money from actually being spent without the proper contract procedure.
Republican Senator Michelle Benson from Ham Lake says, “The takeaway from this is it’s not just D-H-S… and so we need some systemic change. We need the governor to get a handle on these agencies from today going forward.” Governor Walz wasn’t immediately available to comment.
Before Wednesday’s hearing, most of the focus had been on the state Human Services Department, where Commissioner Jodi Harpstead said they’re working to regain trust of lawmakers and Minnesotans.