LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved Sen. Michael D. MacDonald’s resolution to condemn Gov. Whitmer’s inaction in fixing issues at the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) and urge her to sign Senate Bill 690 to provide critical resources to address the claims backlog.
“The governor has demonstrated a lack of preparedness, responsiveness and leadership in addressing issues at the UIA, which has failed unemployed Macomb and Michigan workers,” said MacDonald, R-Macomb Township. “The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on our state. Over 62,000 residents have been infected, more than 5,800 people have lost their lives, and millions of workers lost their jobs. The lost jobs caused Michigan’s unemployment rate to skyrocket to 24% in April — the second-highest rate in the country and the worst since the Great Depression.
“If that wasn’t bad enough, the state’s unemployment agency then failed to quickly process claims and provide people out of work with the necessary assistance to support their families.”
Senate Resolution 132 says that the UIA has been unresponsive to the people they serve and the UIA has mismanaged potential fraud within the system, suspending benefits to deserving residents without forewarning or any regard for the impact on their lives. The UIA halted payments to 540,000 unemployment benefit accounts, without proper investigation, due to suspected fraud. More than half of these accounts have been cleared, an astounding error rate in identifying fraudulent activity.
SR 132 also says the governor and the UIA have failed to implement any meaningful changes to improve the situation.
“Months after the pandemic hit Michigan, far too many people have yet to receive any assistance or even a phone call,” MacDonald said. “We urge the governor to sign the supplemental budget bill we passed to immediately hire 500 temporary employees at the UIA to help these unemployed workers and their families.
“This situation is unacceptable and was preventable. It was a failure of the governor to understand the gravity of the problem and take quick and decisive action to fix it.”
Editor’s note: Video of MacDonald’s floor remarks are available at https://www.SenatorMichaelMacDonald.com/video/.
The above photo is available by clicking on the image or at https://www.SenatorMichaelMacDonald.com/photos/.