Rep. Fink: UIA must explain six-month delay to inform people of mistake
State Rep. Andrew Fink, of Adams Township, is calling on the state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency to provide an explanation after a review letter from the federal government revealed additional problems in how UIA has operated.
The letter clearly shows the agency failed to notify nearly 700,000 people regarding changes in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) qualifications for nearly six months. As early as Jan. 6, the federal government informed the state that multiple benefit qualification requirements were not in compliance with federal law.
As the Unemployment Insurance Agency attempted to bring Michigan into compliance, displaced workers across the state were told they would have to fill out additional paperwork to determine if they were actually eligible for PUA and if they had to pay money back to the state.
This caused a great deal of confusion and concern among residents. Fink said it also highlighted the agency’s struggles to assist people in need and the vulnerability of the agency to fraudulent payments.
“The lack of transparency and communication from the UIA is unacceptable,” Fink said. “There’s no logical reason in why it should have taken the UIA half a year to come into compliance, nor should the agency have kept the public in the dark and mislead a legislative committee. With a track record like this, I’m not sure how we can trust anything the UIA claims moving forward.”
UIA Director Liza Estlund Olson has been asked to appear before the House Oversight Committee to explain this timeline and the decision-making involved. Fink said those answers are very important to the many people who have come to legislators with questions about what is going on at the agency.
The Michigan House today unanimously approved a plan from State Reps. Steve Johnson and Andrew Fink to make legislative agencies, state employees and officials more accountable and transparent to the people they serve.