SACRAMENTO – Yesterday, Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) presented solutions to the Senate Budget Subcommittee #5 to reform the state’s failed Employment Development Department (EDD). During discussion on budget items related to the EDD, Senator Grove offered solutions from two recently released State Audit Reports that would provide oversight of the EDD and protect Californians from future backlogs and failures within the department.
Below are excerpts from the letter submitted by Sen. Grove and Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama) to the chair of Senate Budget Subcommittee #5:
“The State Auditor’s report made clear that EDD was both poorly managed and vulnerable to fraud even more when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Given their historic underperformance and unwillingness to implement previous audit recommendations, it is critical that the Legislature adopt requirements in statute to hold EDD accountable to their mission to serve unemployed Californians.
“The COVID-19 business shutdowns are not the fault of employees, and they should not be subjected to months of waiting for benefits, frozen benefit cards, and stolen identities. Furthermore, employers are also not at fault for the economic fall out of the shutdowns, and should not be on the hook for paying back any of fraudulently issued benefits that are the product of agency errors or incompetence.
“We urge the Budget Committee to adopt this trailer bill with recommendations for EDD to ensure continued legislative oversight and control of the department.
“It is past time to hold EDD accountable for their mismanagement and lack of fraud prevention. The California people deserve better and we, as the Legislature, must act immediately to improve and demand changes to better serve our constituents and our state.
Senator Jim Nielsen
Senator Shannon Grove”
Media can read the full letter including the specific recommendations, here.
Timeline of Senate Republican EDD Actions:
- April 2020: Senate Republicans wrote a letter warning Governor Newsom about the failures of the EDD after hundreds of thousands of jobless Californians reached out to legislative offices seeking help with their unemployment claims.
- June 2020: Republicans asked for an independent audit of the EDD through the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC). Democratic members of JLAC canceled a crucial hearing in August, which would have been an opportunity to review the EDD audit request.
- Signed by Republican members from both the Assembly and Senate, the letter to JLAC was a bicameral effort to demand answers from EDD.
- July 2020: Members of the Senate Republican Caucus requested that Governor Newsom staff EDD 24/7 to help clear the backlog.
- August 2020: Senate Republicans joined a coalition of legislators delivering another letter to the Governor demanding that he take action to improve EDD operations.
- September 2020: Members of JLAC approved an audit of the EDD that Senate Republicans joined in requesting.
- November 2020: District Attorneys announced a major unemployment fraud scheme operating in and around California’s prisons. In a letter to Governor Newsom, Leader Grove requested adequate support for DA’s across the state so they can investigate and prosecute the high number of EDD fraud cases.
- December 2020: Senator Grove introduced SB 39 to mandate crosschecking of prisoner information with unemployment claims and Senator Wilk introduced SB 58 to require EDD to stop including full social security numbers on their mail, which have put tens of millions of citizens at risk or identity theft.
- January 2021: Senate Republicans led an effort to call for an immediate oversight hearing on the EDD following a scathing State Auditor report.
- February 2021: Senate Republicans warned governor about victims of identity theft and urged him to promptly help them so that they can avoid tax liabilities for unreceived benefits.
- February 2021: Senate Republicans requested inclusion of the State Auditor’s recommendations in a budget trailer bill to ensure continued legislative oversight and accountability.