Michigan House Republicans
Reps. Kunse, Harris eager to probe unemployment failures during Thursday hearing
RELEASE|April 25, 2024
Contact: Mike Harris

State Reps. Tom Kunse and Mike Harris on Wednesday highlighted the numerous damning findings uncovered in a December 2023 audit of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency.

The audit, conducted by Michigan’s nonpartisan Office of the Auditor General, is slated to be considered on Thursday morning during a joint House hearing between the House Labor Committee and Ethics and Oversight Committee. Kunse and Harris both serve on the Ethics and Oversight Committee, and Kunse is also a member of the Labor Committee.

“Pigs must be flying somewhere because the House Oversight Committee is about to have two substantive committee meetings in the same number of weeks,” said Kunse, R-Clare. “UIA leadership must answer for the fact that they allowed billions of fraudulent payments over two years. I’m sorry, but when the words billions and fraud are used in the same sentence, I’m not just going to blindly believe some new director when they say all the problems have been fixed. We have a responsibility to ensure these failures are never repeated. We’ll never achieve that goal if we just quietly nod at the person who pinky-promises everything is fine now.”

The audit into the Investigations Division at the Whitmer administration’s UIA found that between January 2020 and October 2022, the agency failed to attempt to identify a large share of imposter claims or to recover many payments and penalties. Previous audits already uncovered billions of dollars in fraudulent payments, insufficient vetting of agency workers, and other administrative failures. The audit report being considered Thursday revealed another $245.1 million in potentially improper payments to ineligible individuals, including benefits paid even after the agency found that an individual was dead or in prison. The UIA did not identify or act to evaluate whether the payments were appropriate.

“Michigan’s unemployment system remains seriously broken,” said Harris, R-Waterford. “Repeatedly, the bureaucrats responsible have claimed they eliminated the issues, only for new audits and committee hearings to reveal the truth: slow approval for eligible applicants, failure to conduct background checks, billions of dollars in fraud, and more. The waves of jobless workers during the pandemic may be gone, but rocky problems still sitting beneath the surface could cause mayhem the next time there’s economic turmoil. I’m glad we’re finally having a real oversight hearing to hear from the professional auditors and demand accountability from the governor’s unemployment agency.”

The joint committee hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. in the House Appropriations Room in the Capitol. The OAG and UIA are both planning to testify.

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