The Minnesota Legislature is cutting off its nose with drastic cuts proposed to the Office of Legislative Auditor’s.(OLA) Many Minnesotans do not not know about the OLA and what it does. It is the investigative and the watchdog arm of the Legislature. In other words, it is your investigative and watchdog arm.
The people of Minnesota have relied upon the OLA to go through state programs to see how effective they are and to see that our tax money is being spent wisely. The Legislative Auditor does investigations such as the Metro Gang Strike Force in 2009. Recently the Legislative Auditor just released a major report on the civil commitment of sex offenders. Many other reports that we and the Legislature use for effective oversight, accountability, and to make sure public resources(evaluations and audits) are not in violation of the laws of Minnesota.
The Senate has called for a 15% cut of the OLA budget which will be a loss of 8 auditors, on top of a loss of 20 auditor staff over the last decade. While government has grown and become more complicated.. The House calls for a 10% reduction.
How can the Legislature effectively oversee, watch, and control government without knowledge and information? I am confused with the goals of the new majority in the House and Senate who state goals of efficient government, to control government, and to have greater accountability, but then they propose cutting the very tools to help achieve those goals.
What the cuts will mean are as follows:
- Less evaluation of programs and their performances.
- Reduced efforts to detect and prevent poor administration, waste, and abuse.
- Lacking of qualified information for change of laws or new ones.
- Deficient in ability to detect, prevent, and investigate illegal conduct.
- Declining data and information to improve efficiency and effectiveness of government.
There are other ramifications, but the point is made.
The Legislature, directly elected by the people, to be the watchers of our money and our interests are certainly doing great harm in their ability to that. That harm is cutting the Office of Legislative Auditor.