Problems with aging technology and fraud have put the Kansas Department of Labor on the map — and not in a good way.
67th District Rep. Mike Dodson (R-Manhattan) says in absolute numbers Kansas ranks third behind California and Illinois in terms of unemployment fraud.
“We have 3 million people and we account for 9 percent of the unemployment fraud in America, so it’s fairly apparent that some whole body of thugs have kind of figured out that our security system on IT was not very good and therefore it was ripe for fraud,” he said.
Dodson was a guest Friday on the KMAN Morning Show for a legislative spotlight interview.
Last weekend the Department of Labor shut down its IT software to combat the high number of fraudulent unemployment claims coming into the system.
“We felt that was necessary in order to stem the plight of fraud and then there’s still a huge amount of work to be done to go back and make sure people got paid properly and we’re still addressing that. There are still people who can’t even get their claims done, because they’re so backed up,” he said.
Dodson blames the insufficiency on aging technology at the Department of Labor for the reason the whole process has failed Kansans.
“This is kind of like an old car that you drive around town and nothing happens, you think it’s ok and then you take it out on I-70 and then it breaks down. Once we got all these claims the system was just overloaded and didn’t work at all,” he said.
Dodson says on the front end of things, the labor department tried unsuccessfully to quickly process claims as they came in but likely missed some key steps along the way.
“If you’re all about speed then some of the cautions that you might’ve taken to check social security numbers, addresses, names and those kinds of things against the records that the employer had, don’t get properly done,” he said.
Dodson says the state’s trust fund had $1 billion dollars going into the pandemic, which he says has now evaporated to nearly half that amount, according to some estimates.
“If you look at the rate of burn, it doesn’t look good. So we’re trying to figure out how to make sure the employers are not gunned for all of this,” he said.
Dodson adds that refinancing that trust fund will not be easy.
The state has so far paid out over $2.6 billion between regular unemployment and the federal pandemic programs since March.
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