Republican state senators are demanding that Gov. Andrew Cuomo fix the unemployment system and proposed a series of recommendations for the Department of Labor.
The department said Wednesday that more than 330,000 New Yorkers have been approved for PUA in just over a month. And that, In total, the department has now paid $7.4 billion in unemployment benefits to since the #COVID19 pandemic began – 3.5x the total paid benefits in 2019
As unemployment has increased, elected officials, both Democratic and Republican, have reported receiving thousands of complaints from constitutents who say they haven’t received checks or been able to reach anyone at the Department of Labor. The state said it has spent nearly to overhaul the DOL call system and to add employees.
The Republicans propose:
- The Governor must streamline application certifications and allow applicants to “certify” upon application, while still providing appropriate safeguards to help ensure that benefits only go to eligible New Yorkers;
- In addition to the 3,000 employees currently working phones, the DOL must collaborate with other state agencies to train thousands more of the state’s workforce, who are staying at home, to rapidly field calls and help New Yorkers file to receive benefits immediately;
- The State Comptroller, who oversees payments, contracts, and finances in the state, should be empowered to provide Emergency Oversight and Assistance to DOL;
- Comptroller DiNapoli should conduct an immediate, fast-track audit of the DOL’s procedures and administration of the program; and
- A State Legislative Joint Committee should conduct an immediate review and investigation into DOL’s handling of unemployment benefits throughout the pandemic.
“Our office receives calls starting at 6 a.m. with unemployed residents desperate for assistance, and we try as best we can to connect them to the Department of Labor and to help get them their desperately needed checks, but what is happening in New York to unemployed New Yorkers forced out of work is devastating. Unemployed New Yorkers do not want to hear that they will eventually receive money backdated to the time that they were unemployed because they need money now. This system needs to work to allow New Yorkers to pay their bills and put food on the table,” said Senate Republican Leader John J. Flanagan.