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Lawmakers want answers on unemployment overpayment

The auditor general says more audits on the overpayments are ongoing.
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Money(WLUC)
Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 10:59 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - A bipartisan call from lawmakers to make sure $4 billion never go to waste again.

Earlier this month, a state audit showed the Unemployment Insurance Agency, or UIA, paid $3.9 billion in benefits to people who weren’t eligible. It found “inaction by UIA’s senior leadership” was a large factor in the mistake.

This all starts back in March of 2020. Then, the CARES Act passed funding for pandemic unemployment benefits. However, people getting that money had to be eligible under one of the reasons given in the CARES Act.

In June, the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) told the UIA it had four unauthorized reasons that needed to be removed in seven days.

However, those four reasons weren’t actually removed from the application for more than seven months.

“UIA continued to include the four unauthorized criteria on its form even after USDOL noted that the eligibility reasons must be listed verbatim from the CARES Act,” said Chad Monger, Michigan Auditor General Senior Supervisor.

Tuesday, lawmakers in the House and Senate Oversight Committee wanted to find who got that extra money. The audit says the state, will likely never get it back because it’s the states fault.

“These were real people who existed here in Michigan who were unemployed,” said Rep. Julie Brixie, D- 69th State House District.

“Perhaps, we don’t know that they were unemployed or not,” said Bryan Weiler, Michigan Auditor General Chief Investigator.

Last month, the UIA got its third director in just over a year. Julia Dale is now running the agency.

“I am committed to stable, long-term leadership that demands great accountability and stewardship,” said Dale.

But lawmakers want to see action.

“How do we prevent this happening again? With all due respect director Dale, I don’t think ‘trust me’ is an adequate answer,” said Rep. David LaGrand, D-75th State House District.

After Tuesday’s meeting, lawmakers still want answers.

“When it comes to the improper criteria remaining on the application, why did that happen? Why did that happen? Why did it wait so long? Is there any explanation for why?” asked Sen. Ed McBroom, R-38th State Senate District.

“I don’t have a good answer to that question,” said Dale.

The auditor general says more audits on the overpayments are ongoing. More information is expected to be released early next year.

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