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  • Release from the Office of State Rep. Julie Calley

Rep. Calley backs solutions to problems plaguing state unemployment agency

State Rep. Julie Calley today stood up for Michigan families and job providers by voting to fix problems that have plagued the state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency.

Calley, of Portland, said most of the measures approved address procedural issues and mistakes made by the agency that forced hundreds of thousands of people to wait far too long for the unemployment insurance checks they were owed.

“I heard from so many local families who were put in an impossible situation during the pandemic,” Calley said. “Hard-working people were forced out of their jobs by the governor’s orders, then were left struggling to put food on the table while the unemployment agency delayed their rightful support. This went on for months, and eventually the agency demanded the funds back from many of the same families. We need more accountability to force the unemployment agency to do a better job to promptly and accurately serve Michiganders.”

There currently is no clear-cut timeframe or deadline to review a jobless claim. House Bill 5553 requires the unemployment agency to review and determine someone’s eligibility within 15 business days of a claim being submitted.

Another measure approved today deposits $250 million into the state unemployment trust fund to ensure local employers don’t pay more in taxes to make up for the staggering $8.5 billion the Unemployment Insurance Agency lost to fraud during the pandemic.

The $250 million appropriation, when combined with another $150 million deposit included in the current state budget for the same purpose, makes up for the portion of the fraudulent payments that independent investigators and the Auditor General believe came specifically from the state unemployment trust fund, which is supported by unemployment insurance taxes on employers.

“We can’t let small-business owners and working families pay more in taxes to make up for the money fraudulently paid out by the Whitmer Administration,” Calley said.

Other parts of the plan to fix problems at the Unemployment Insurance Agency include:

  • Accountability for the people: To address continued customer service concerns, the plan creates a new independent unemployment insurance advocate to serve as a point-of-contact for families who need help getting the jobless benefits they deserve. UIA would be required to submit a report to the citizens’ advocate outlining the number of cases that have been appealed by the agency and sent to the internal Board of Appeals Commission, as well as the length of time cases have sat before the commission before a final resolution is reached.

  • New provisions to protect workers: Limiting the time during which the Unemployment Insurance Agency can claw back funds paid in error will give jobless claimants and job providers more certainty moving forward.

  • More communication within state government: The proposal requires UIA to provide accurate and timely data regarding the status of the agency’s trust fund that is used to pay out benefits. The fund was heavily depleted as millions sought benefits over the last 18 months – causing concerns that money would not be available for benefits and that businesses, which are charged with paying into the fund, would see a rate increase. The reporting would improve communication between a vital administrative arm and representatives of the people.

House Bills 5549-54 and 5525 now advance to the Senate for further consideration.


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