California's unemployment agency may have lied to lawmakers about aid that was denied during pandemic.
The Sacramento Bee says a new report from Legislative Analyst’s Office found California’s unemployment insurance agency had “mischaracterized” the number of people denied aid during the start of the pandemic.
The report found the department had disqualified more than 3.4 million unemployment claims during the first 16 months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In earlier reports to legislators, however, the department said it disqualified or denied just 705,000 claims during that period.
When asked about the discrepancy, the agency told the analyst’s office it did not think it had to tell lawmakers the total claims of people it denied on state procedural grounds.
The analyst’s office report said the state’s unemployment program has likely denied between 500 million and a billion dollars in benefits annually in recent years, and its application process was “difficult to understand and unnecessarily lengthy” and its “outdated technology” was inhibiting its ability to manage even routine tasks, the report said.
Previously, the auditor said the employment department did not follow warnings, leading it to pay out more than 10 billion dollars in potentially fraudulent claims.