Republicans at the legislature are pleased that Governor Tim Walz supports an outside audit of the entire state Human Services Department — which at last count owes the federal government over 70 million dollars for overpayments to chemical dependency treatment providers and two Native American tribes. Republican Senator Michelle Benson from Ham Lake says, “My recommendation would be that, if we’re going to spend money on [an] audit, we do an audit of internal controls because that is going to get us the biggest bang for our buck. Once internal controls are in place, these mistakes will stop happening.”
Benson adds because the Human Services Department’s programs are so wide-ranging, it might be difficult to find an outside audit firm that doesn’t have a potential conflict-of-interest. Benson and House Democratic Majority Leader Ryan Winkler apparently agree the state should enlist the services of the legislative auditor to scrutinize state Human Services Department operations.