Massive layoffs at the State Department of Health just two weeks before Christmas and a month after a $30-million taxpayer bailout of the agency. The agency mismanaged the money, and now about 200 employees are paying the price with their jobs.
The State Department of Health, “misappropriated” at least $30-million, then cooked the books to cover its tracks.
The legislature agreed to send the agency $30-million, they thought, to avoid layoffs. Now some lawmakers say they were conned.
Last month, Interim Health Department director Preston Doerflinger promised transparency as he asked the legislature for 30-million more dollars. Now that he has the cash he is refusing to answer our questions on camera, but did release a statement saying 37 people will be laid off now and another 161 in March.
Representative Kevin Calvey (R) District 82 says lawmakers reluctantly agreed to give the agency an additional $30-million, “…based on the representation from the governor's office and others that they needed that to make payroll. Well if they're laying those people off, then obviously it's not going for payroll. Where's that money going"
The governor’s office says the $30-milllion was meant as a band aid, not a cure. When asked, "If 30 million was misappropriated and the legislature returned 30 million making them whole why the need for these layoffs?” the Governor’s Chief of Staff, Chris Benge, replied “Well again I don't know all the details as to why you had to have these layoffs other than 30 million was not promised as a silver bullet."
News 9 asked Calvey if he felt duped. “Well yes, obviously I think all of us should.” He said, "It really makes the governor’s office look like they're doing something really fishy."
A House investigative committee will begin looking into the misappropriated cash Monday.