At a press conference on Tuesday, members of the Michigan House Democrats and Michigan Senate Democrats said they would take on the state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency.
Over the past few years, the UIA has accused 40,000 people of unemployment fraud. So far, 93 percent of those allegations have proven false, and an audit of the remaining allegations is ongoing. The UIA has also compromised the personal information of 2 million people in Michigan.
The plan introduced by the Democrats would make restitution to those falsely accused of fraud and grant assistance to victims of identity theft caused by a state agency. It would also go after employers who neglect to pay their unemployment insurance and improve the benefits offered to Michigan workers down on their luck.
“Families across the state have been harmed by a state Unemployment Insurance Agency that falsely accused them of fraud and punished them with wrongful fees and penalties,” House Democratic Leader Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) said. “Our governor claims to treat citizens as ‘customers,’ but this has to be one of the worst examples of his customer service yet. This scandal has had families go into bankruptcy while some employers have evaded paying into the system with limited consequences. Legislative Republicans have been more interested in removing unemployment protections than fixing this broken system.”
Assist Workers Harmed by False Fraud Allegations and Data Breaches
- Reimburse costs incurred by victims of false fraud allegations, including lost benefits, fees, penalties, legal fees, late fees and other expenses. Expand the statute of limitations on claims related to false fraud allegations against the UIA to include people harmed between Jan. 1, 2007, to Dec. 31, 2016. Require state departments that compromised citizens’ personal information to help victims of identity theft.
Fix the Unemployment Insurance Agency
- Make Michigan’s unemployment benefits comparable to other Midwestern states by restoring the maximum duration of benefits to 26 weeks, increasing the weekly maximum benefits to $483 plus an additional $120 for claimants with children, and indexing the benefit the cost of inflation. Reduce penalties assessed to fraudulent claimants to a maximum of 100 percent.
Hold Employers Accountable
- Increase the penalty to employers that are more than 30 days late with unemployment tax payments by 100 percent.