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Legislative Audit Commission


January 28, 2002

The meeting of the Legislative Audit Commission was called to order by Senator Ann H. Rest at 10:05 a.m. on Monday, January 28, 2002, in Room 316, State Capitol.

Members Present:

Senator Dave Johnson Representative Steve Dehler
Senator Ann H. Rest Representative Ruth Johnson
Senator Claire Robling Representative Dan Larson
Senator Jim Vickerman Representative Peggy Leppik
Senator Deanna Wiener    Representative Dan McElroy
Representative Mary Jo McGuire
Representative Michelle Rifenberg
Representative Wes Skoglund

Members Excused:

Senator Bill Belanger
Senator Sheila Kiscaden
Senator Thomas Neuville

Senator Rest indicated the purpose of the meeting was to release and review the program evaluation reports on the economic status of welfare recipients and financing unemployment insurance.

Senator Rest recognized James Nobles, Legislative Auditor. Mr. Nobles reviewed the reasons these topics were selected for study by the commission. He introduced John Patterson, project manager for the welfare study, and John Yunker, project manager for the unemployment compensation study.

Senator Rest recognized Mr. Patterson, project manager for the study on the economic status of welfare recipients. He introduced Dan Jacobson and Adrienne Howard, other evaluation specialists who worked on the study. Mr. Patterson reviewed the questions addressed in the report, research methods, findings, and recommendations, and answered questions from members. Senator Rest suggested the report be discussed with a representative of the National Conference of State Legislatures who will be in Minnesota in the near future.

Senator Rest recognized Chuck Johnson, MFIP Director for the Department of Human Services. Mr. Johnson reviewed the agency's response to the report, noting that they concur with the findings, but expressed concern on how the report represents health care benefits for welfare recipients. He noted the department is aware of the problems cited in the report and that they are working to address them. He then answered questions from members. In response to a question from Representative McElroy concerning the source of data concerning the number of families where the head of household is earning under $10.00 an hour, Mr. Johnson indicated he would check and get that information for him.

Senator Rest recognized John Yunker, project manager for the study on financing unemployment insurance. Mr. Yunker reviewed the evaluation issues, background, funding sources and tax rates, unemployment rates, and concerns about the health of the unemployment compensation fund. He reviewed reasons for the fund's vulnerability and recommendations contained in the report. When asked about the possibility of borrowing from another fund, such as the workers' compensation fund, Mr. Yunker noted that short term borrowing is not a long term solution.

Senator Rest recognized Jack Weidenbach, Director of the WorkForce Wage Assistance Branch, Department of Economic Security. Mr. Weidenbach indicated he would provide a copy of his comments to the Chair. He reviewed the agency's response to the report and answered questions from members. He noted that fund solvency must be addressed by the Legislature this session or face the possibility of federal penalties.

The meeting adjourned at 12:20 p.m.

Senator Ann H. Rest, Chair

Jean Barnhill, Recording Secretary


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