Acting Secretary Nancy Walker, along with Maria Macus, Deputy Secretary, Unemployment compensation, Dan Kuba, Deputy Secretary, Workforce Development, Scott Weiant, Deputy Secretary, Administration, Gerald Mullery, Deputy Secretary, Workers Compensation, and Ryan Hyde, Executive Director, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation testified before the House Appropriations Committee. House Republicans focused their questions on fixing the Unemployment Compensation system and working to reduce fraud and abuse of the system. Additionally, Republicans asked about plans for increased labor law compliance and the economic consequences to raising the minimum wage.
· Pennsylvanians are fed up with long wait times and unresolved issues with Unemployment Compensation – the first priority for L&I should be fixing this. All other initiatives are secondary to fixing this problem.
· The department, via the Federal Government, has estimated as much as $6 billion dollars in fraudulent payments may have been made by the UC system. In addition, there are approximately 84,000 fraud reports currently awaiting investigation. These cases must be investigated and adjudicated immediately.
· House Republicans believe in investing in Career and Technical Education, the investments in L&I’s proposed budget are a step in the right direction.
· House Republicans are concerned with the $1.3 million proposed to increase the number of Labor Law Compliance investigators. Given the recent history with government employees in L&I and other agencies being used to close businesses down, House Republicans need assurances these employees will be proactive rather than punitive.
Rep. Natalie Mihalek makes a plea to L&I to come visit her district office to fully understand the UC issues constituents are facing.
Rep. Clint Owlett asks L&I what it is doing to hold IT vendors accountable on fixing the UC system.
Rep. John Lawrence questions L&I on what is being done to investigate and adjudicate fraudulent UC payments.
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