House Report

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By State Representative Todd Russ

Last week, a multicounty grand jury, the state attorney general and the state auditor released reports on the mismanagement scandal at the state Health Department. I was infuriated as a lawmaker to read as well as a taxpayer.

It turns out the department’s initial claim that it was nearly insolvent after “borrowing” federal funds to pay state expenses was never true. Instead, department leaders apparently hid state appropriated dollars in a slush fund set up to look like restricted federal funds. So in November, when they said they had to have an emergency infusion of $30 million just to make December payroll that was not true. Only when the department got a new chief operating officer and a new chief finance officer who didn’t know how the game was played did the situation at the Health Department begin to unravel.


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