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Legislative Audit Commission


January 27, 2000

The meeting of the Legislative Audit Commission was called to order by Representative Dan McElroy on Thursday, January 27, 2000 at 9:40 A.M. in Room 316, State Capitol.

Members Present:

Representative Lynda Boudreau    Senator William Belanger
Representative Chris Gerlach Senator Sheila Kiscaden
Representative Mindy Greiling Senator David Knutson
Representative Dan McElroy Senator Keith Langseth
Representative Mary Jo McGuire Senator Thomas Neuville
Representative Wes Skoglund Senator Claire Robling
Senator Deanna Wiener

Members Excused:

Representative Phil Carruthers   Senator Dave Johnson
Representative Kris Hasskamp Senator James Metzen
Representative Philip Krinkie Senator Ember Reichgott Junge
Representative Peggy Leppik

Representative McElroy indicated the purpose of the meeting was to review the evaluation report on welfare reform. He recognized James Nobles, Legislative Auditor. Mr. Nobles reviewed the reasons why the topic had been selected by the Legislative Audit Commission for study. He introduced Joel Alter, project manager, and evaluation specialists John Patterson, Dan Jacobson, Beth Haney, and Mary Jo Bartl.

Mr. Alter reviewed the questions addressed in the study, research methods used, reforms taken by the federal government and changes in Minnesota. He reviewed welfare funding and caseload composition, and summarized the recommendations contained in the report for action by the legislature and state and local agencies.

Representative McElroy recognized Mary Orr of the Department of Human Services. Ms. Orr summarized the agency's response to the report and indicated that the department concurred with the recommendations. Senator Wiener indicated that one of the federal goals was to reduce out-of-wedlock births, but Minnesota's numbers were increasing. She asked what Minnesota is not doing. Mr. Alter indicated the federal government has no prescription for this, that it was up to the states and agencies how to achieve this. Ms. Orr indicated that though the Department of Human Services and the Department of Health need to work together to achieve this, the responsibility ultimately lies with the Department of Health. Representative Greiling indicated some counties have stated they have too much money for this purpose and are too rushed to spend it, so they are not spending it appropriately.

Representative McElroy recognized Chuck Johnson of the Department of Human Services. Mr. Johnson answered questions concerning migration into Minnesota and reasons for it. Mr. Alter and Ms. Orr answered questions concerning the reasons why Minnesota has had a lower reduction in the number of program participants than neighboring states. Mr. Alter indicated that each state has differing requirements and differing sanctions. Ms. Orr indicated that Minnesota is trying to achieve multiple goals, not just a reduction in caseloads. Representative McElroy suggested that the purpose of the program is to improve the standard of living, but questioned why Minnesota tracks participants differently than other states.

Senator Robling asked if there was any way to determine if individuals move to a new state once they have exhausted benefits in another. Mr. Alter indicated that there is no national network in place for tracking program participants, and no plan to put one in place. Minnesota is the only mid-western state that requires such tracking. In response to a question from Representative Skoglund, Ms. Orr indicated that if it is determined that an applicant has participated in a program in another state, that time is deducted from their eligibility in Minnesota.

There was some discussion about illegal aliens. In response to questions from Senators Belanger and Neuville and Representative Boudreau, Ms. Orr indicated that they are not eligible for the MFIP program, but that if a child is born while in the United States, the child is eligible.

The meeting adjourned at 11:05 A.M.

Representative Dan McElroy, Chair

Jean Barnhill, Recording Secretary



Office of the Legislative Auditor ♦ Room 140, 658 Cedar St., St. Paul, MN 55155