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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Sondra Erickson (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Sondra Erickson

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

On Wednesday, the National Center for Education Studies released the results of the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress, an annual congressionally mandated project tracking student achievement across the country. You can view the Nation's Report Card results here.

Since 2017, scores from Minnesota 4th and 8th graders in math and reading have dropped, continuing an overall downward dating back to at least 2013. Notably, the 4th grade scores are reflective of the first class of all-day Pre-Kindergarten passed by the DFL-controlled legislature and signed into law by Governor Dayton in 2013. Earlier this year, data from the Minnesota Department of Education showed drops in reading and math proficiency among Minnesota students.

The data makes clear that, by every available measure, student proficiency and academic performance is slipping, and we're failing to make meaningful progress closing our shameful achievement gap.

This has serious consequences for an entire generation of children whose diplomas will be meaningless because Governor Walz and his administration want to focus on boosting graduation rates rather than equipping students with the skills they need to succeed after graduation.

We need to focus on improving student proficiency in core subjects like math and science. The reality is that graduation rates, especially if they are not tied to academic performance, are a meaningless statistic that may make adults feel good, but will do nothing to help our students.

Audit Reveals Blatant Disregard for Taxpayers at DHS

The non-partisan Legislative Auditor (OLA) released its highly anticipated special review of the $29 million in improper payments made by the Department of Human Services (DHS) to two tribal governments for addiction services.

In their report, the OLA found that DHS repeatedly approved a billing practice that effectively caused double-billing to the federal government—once for an in-person visit, and multiple additional reimbursements when patients self-administer medication at home.

The OLA blamed "troubling dysfunction" at DHS, noting the agency "did not have legal authority to make the payments; did not document why, when, and who decided it was appropriate to make the payments; no one at DHS takes responsibility for the decision; and no one at DHS can provide a rationale for the payments. The overpayments continued over several years and did not stop until an outside inquiry brought them to light."

Ultimately, taxpayers should not be forced to pay DHS’ $29 million error. Instead, the agency should find $29 million in their $18 billion budget to cover the cost. Once again, accountability and reorganization is needed at this agency. 

Staying in Touch

Please continue to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns related to state government. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-6746 or via email at rep.sondra.erickson@house.mn.

Have a great weekend,

Sondra

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