House Oversight Committee calls on UIA director to testify
State Rep. Bryan Posthumus 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. Posthumus said it also highlighted the agency’s incompetence in assisting people in need and the vulnerability of the agency to fraudulent payments.
“The governor’s unemployment agency failed Michigan workers who were already going through an incredibly difficult time,” Posthumus said. “Keeping the public in the dark is never the right course of action. The agency should have been transparent about the error and worked with legislators to keep recipients informed about the status of the situation.”
UIA Director Liza Estlund Olson has been asked to appear before the House Oversight Committee to explain this timeline and the decision-making involved. Posthumus 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.
Rep. Posthumus speaks on the House floor Thursday, saying the third-of-a-billion dollar public safety package approved by the House will focus on the recruitment, retention and well-being of public safety professionals.
Rep. Posthumus says the veto of his HB 5404 late Friday, which would have created the Student Opportunity Scholarship program in Michigan, is not surprising, as he says his efforts to help families and students also threatened entrenched interests.