The 2017 Legislative Session is expected to be contentious as the state of Montana deals with tight revenues and uncertainty. Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas says the Montana Department of Health and Human Services is making the budgeting process even more difficult than it needs to be, by failing to cooperate with the legislature.

“You can put me on record, they purposely do not address our questions and be forthright with us because they don’t want us to know,” Thomas said. “I’ll just go on record with that. I have been through too many hearings and too many committees to have that not the case. It is just too bad, but that is the way it is.”

Thomas accuses DPHHS of more than just obfuscation and says that individuals have been punished for whistleblowing.

“Their default deal is they say well our computer systems don’t track all this data and we can’t get if for you,” said Thomas. “We really frankly don’t have any idea if that is true or not. We have auditors in there and they don’t cooperate with them to audit and to look at data. That is where a lot of the whistleblowing is coming from, saying we have had misappropriation of funds there. When we raise these questions they stomp on the whistleblower and fire and demote them.”

KGVO has reached out to DPHHS for a response to these accusations, but the agency has not yet responded.