State lawmakers call for audit of unemployment processing
A group of state legislators is asking for a state Comptroller’s Office audit of the state Labor Department’s processing of unemployment applications, including breaches of personal information.
Senators Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, and James Seward, R-Milford, joined with Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon, D-Utica, and Assemblyman Mark Walczyk, D-Watertown, to send a letter to Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. The legislators said their offices have been contacted daily by constituents frustrated their unemployment applications haven’t been processed and that the Labor Department isn’t effectively communicating with them. They also have been informed by constituents of personal information breaches that they fear may be more widespread than has been acknowledged.
“The investigation by the Comptroller’s Office is essential,” Buttenschon said, to ensure accountability as well as to eliminate those bottlenecks in the system that are preventing people from having their claims approved and their benefits started. “I have heard from hundreds of constituents who are on the verge of giving up hope not because of the virus but because the system that is supposed to help them is repeatedly failing.”
In addition to the audit, Walczyk, Buttenschon, Seward and Griffo are asking for joint legislative hearings into the issue. They sent a letter to Sen. Jessica Ramos, D-East Elmhurst and Senate Labor Committee chairperson; Sen. James Skoufis, D-Newburgh and chairman of the Senate Committee on Investigations and Government Operations, Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, D-Bronx and Assembly Labor Committee chairperson, and Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski, D-New City and Assembly Governmental Operations chairman, asking for hearings to take place.
“At a time when individuals and families need the state to come through for them they are instead left hurting and in the dark,” Seward said. “The Department of Labor has come up short in multiple ways and a security failure is one more issue to add to the list of serious violations. Many people have been waiting weeks, even months, for essential unemployment benefits to feed their families and maintain some semblance of a normal life. I join with my fellow senators and assembly members calling for immediate help for those in need, and long-term solutions to repair what is clearly a broken system.”