The Sun Editorial: "Gavin Newsom owns the failures at state unemployment agency"

By The Editorial Board
December 11, 2020

Worse and worse.

That’s the only way to describe the performance of the California Employment Development Department …

The latest bad news comes from Bank of America, …  said Monday the state has likely paid out more than $2 billion in fraudulent claims. …

Bank of America said unemployment benefits fraud in California is at “unprecedented levels” compared to other states. …

Last month we learned that inmates were filing for and receiving fraudulent unemployment benefits from behind bars. While legitimate applicants continue to wait for the EDD to work through a backlog that reached 1.6 million claims, the state agency paid out an estimated $400 million in benefits fraudulently obtained by incarcerated persons.

Gov. Gavin Newsom owns this crisis, having been warned about EDD vulnerabilities ahead of time. Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove said the administration “was told months ago to take action to prevent this kind of fraud and their inability to do anything has now placed a potential $2 billion screw-up on the backs of our struggling businesses.” Grove says she will introduce legislation to require the state to cross-check unemployment claims against state prison records before approving payment.

Newsom is responsible for this cascading series of foreseeable failures triggered by poor management and lack of oversight. His administration should have been prepared for the surge of unemployment claims triggered by the lockdown he ordered and responded promptly to remedy any problems that surfaced during the crisis. Californians deserve better.

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