SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) – State lawmakers are trying to bring big changes to California’s Employment Development Department with some proposals they rolled out on Thursday.
This comes as the agency has been slow to pay out unemployment benefits while struggling as a target for fraud.
“EDD has been failing California, the truth is the department has been failing for years,” Assm. Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Laguna Beach, said.
California lawmakers unveiled a sweeping set of proposals to improve the embattled Employment Development Department.
Their goal is to get the state agency handling unemployment benefits to speed up claims and stop fraud.
The proposals include cross-checking claims with prison inmate records, a check or direct deposit option for claimants, an oversight board, and a customer advocate office along with expanded language access beyond just English and Spanish.
Lawmakers are also proposing to fund a $55 million taskforce to investigate and prosecute the at least $11 billion paid out in fraudulent claims.
Assemblyman David Chiu hopes the legislature and administration approve this as soon as possible.
“We’ve heard from DA’s all over the state that they are completely under-resourced, they can only go after the most egregious cases and we know any investment will more than recoup itself,” Assm. David Chiu, D-San Francisco, said.
For months now, the EDD has been under a microscope as an easy target for fraudsters, yet difficult to deal with for claimants like Laurel Carter.
“I’m now six weeks in without any payment, any, any just response,” Carter said.
Governor Gavin Newsom released a statement saying in part his administration made significant changes to improve the customer experience and stop fraud but there is more to do.
He says he looks forward to working with the legislature and evaluating the proposals.
Hearings on the bills will be held in the spring.