SACRAMENTO – Today, Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) delivered a bipartisan letter to the Chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) and the Chair of Senate Budget Subcommittee #5 requesting an immediate oversight hearing. Leader Grove’s letter is in response to a scathing audit report released today by the non-partisan State Auditor about the Employment Development Department (EDD) that confirms the failures of the EDD. The oversight hearing should focus on EDD implementing the Auditor’s recommendations to address the backlog of claims and prevent future fraud. Media can download the letter here.
Today’s audit results come after news reports show an increase in the number of backlogged claims and that rampant fraudulent unemployment claims are now at a staggering $11 billion and could rise as high as $30 billion. The audit also found that “the economic downturn worsened EDD’s already poor performance” and that, even after adding numerous staff, EDD answered less than 1% of calls at the beginning of the unemployment surge.
“I have requested an immediate oversight hearing on the state’s unemployment department to ensure that the auditor’s recommendations are implemented right away and Californians receive help immediately. Because of the incompetence at the EDD, out-of-work Californians have been suffering over the last ten months while convicted rapists, murderers, and criminals received tens of billions in fraudulent benefits,” said Senator Grove. "Enough is enough: if the governor isn't going to do his job, then the Legislature must step up to help Californians.”
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.