Senator Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) is calling for a complete audit of Governor Pritzker’s management of the state’s unemployment program following the release of a financial audit of the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES).
On July 28 the Auditor General released a financial audit of IDES that detailed the Pritzker Administration’s failures regarding the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Program. While the audit covered only seven weeks of the multi-month program, its findings were stark.
“This audit is official documentation of Governor Pritzker’s ongoing failure to lead,” said Sen. Plummer. “It proves that even as countless hard-working Illinoisans were forced into desperate situations due to Governor Pritzker’s unilateral decisions, his Administration was completely unresponsive to their needs and left the door to fraud wide open.”
Key findings from the report included:
· The Pritzker Administration failed to validate the identities of over 4,500 claimants before paying them $41,697,272.
· The Pritzker Administration paid PUA benefits to 164 claimants who were between the ages of birth and 13 years of age. These children received unemployment payments of more than $1,500,000.
· The Pritzker Administration’s failure to accurately document eligibility resulted in potentially ineligible claimants receiving benefits worth almost $155,000,000.
· The Pritzker Administration paid benefits to dozens of deceased claimants, costing the state hundreds of thousands of dollars.
· The Pritzker Administration, according to its own records, paid benefits to individuals who have yet to be born.
“As fraud and identity theft overwhelmed unemployment claims, the Pritzker Administration sat idly by and IDES’s offices remain closed. That’s not leadership,” said Sen. Plummer. “For months, Senate Republicans have been voicing our concerns about the unprecedented levels of fraud within Illinois’ unemployment system. Yet our calls have gone unaddressed, leaving thousands of Illinoisans victims to a system that should never have been allowed to fail them at their most vulnerable point.”
The state had been warned. In April 2020, the federal government recommended that Illinois implement additional fraud-prevention tools. That warning fell on deaf ears in the Pritzker Administration, which failed to act.
“Governor Pritzker was warned about the dangers ahead, but he chose to ignore common sense solutions. Now, and for many years going forward, the people of this state will pay the price,” said Sen. Plummer. “It’s unacceptable and grossly negligent. The findings of this partial audit demonstrate that we need a complete audit of the governor’s management of the state’s unemployment program.”
The full audit can be found at: https://www.auditor.illinois.gov/Audit-Reports/Compliance-Agency-List/Emp-Sec/FY20-IDES-Fin-Full.pdf.