* Senate GOP Leader Brady…
I am writing to you on behalf of my caucus, and the citizens we represent, who have made hundreds of calls to our offices to express their frustration about their inability to access critical unemployment benefits.
Residents throughout Illinois impacted by the economic crisis resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak are struggling to pay their rent and feed their families. During these unprecedented times, we must do everything we can to ensure they are getting the help they need as soon as possible.
One segment of our population impacted by this economic crisis are those self-employed “gig” workers who, according to ADP Research Institute, make up 18 percent of our workforce. Under the recently signed federal stimulus law, these gig workers will now be eligible for unemployment benefits, and states must modify their websites in order to review these claims. This is most welcome news. However, it is our understanding that this modification to the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s (IDES) website could take months.
Weeks ago, our constituents were told the IDES website would be improved, and access would be enhanced. However, based on what we are hearing from our constituents, delays with the site continue and frustrations continue to mount.
With the addition of gig workers, timely access to this site is even more critical, especially given the fact that we are hearing other states already have a system in place to handle gig claims.
When can we tell our constituents they will be able to apply for these crucial resources?
Senate Republican Leader
* I asked for a response from the governor’s press secretary, Jordan Abudayyeh…
This administration is committed to lifting up working families during this crisis. IDES is working around the clock to handle the unprecedented volumes of claims and improvements have been made while the office continues to work through the historic number of claims. The CARES Act created a brand new program for workers who have never participated in the unemployment insurance system. The state has contracted with a vendor to get that new program up and running as soon as possible. If lawmakers have ideas on how to improve the process or expand resources for working families even further we’re happy to work with them.
* Wanted urgently: People who know a half century-old computer language so states can process unemployment claims
…Adding… From the ILGOP…
This response from Governor Pritzker to criticism for the failures of our unemployment claim system is unacceptable. This is understandably an unprecedented time with major strain on our state agency processing unemployment benefits that help struggling families. First it became clear Illinois is falling behind other states in testing. We can’t afford to fail to provide struggling workers with the help they need to survive. The Governor’s response to reasonable questions amounts to “we are doing the best we can” and if lawmakers have better ideas, “you can do the job.” It is an abdication of leadership to shove responsibility for needed solutions for HIS state agency onto state lawmakers. Leaders lead; they don’t pass the buck when challenged. Governor, do better.
In contrast, here is how a couple Dem Governors are responding differently to the strain:
Cuomo (NY): “I apologize for the pain — it must be infuriating to deal with.”
Newsome (CA): “We all have to do more and to do better.”
And NY has found a creative way to deal with the claim load - partnered with Google for a new platform that is rolling out today, moving to a call center, and hiring hundreds of new workers to process claims. https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/politics/albany/2020/04/09/unemployment-claims-ny-frustration-with-filing/2962500001/