The crisis at the Employment Development Department (EDD) is continuing. Many claimants had to wait months for their benefits, thousands have had their finances devastated, while others filed phony claims that reportedly defrauded the state of over $30 billion.
The Executive Branch administers state agencies, but has taken no significant steps toward reforming EDD. The Legislative Branch has stepped into the breech, and I’m very happy that my office has been able to provide assistance to thousands of constituents. Since March of 2020 when the shutdowns began, we have handled over 2100 EDD cases, compared to just 4 in all of 2019. Over the past months, calls/emails regarding new EDD cases sometimes averaged over 100 a week. We’re still opening 50 or 60 new cases every week, along with constant EDD hiccups and glitches that generate dozens of follow-up contacts about supposedly resolved cases. As a result, each legislative office was authorized by Assembly Speaker Rendon to hire temporary employees to help with incoming EDD claims.
The Legislature is also taking steps toward EDD reform. Assembly Bill 12, which I co-authored with Assemblymember Kelly Seyarto (R – Murrieta), will prevent fraud by requiring EDD and other agencies to stop including Social Security numbers in outgoing mail. Another bill that I supported, AB 110, requires cross-referencing new EDD claims with prison inmate Social Security numbers. This commonsense step would have prevented over $1 billion in fraudulent payments to inmates last year.
The EDD liaisons assigned to our office are knowledgeable and helpful, but they are saddled with an antiquated, inefficient system. The overall inability of EDD to meet its responsibilities in a timely and secure fashion has been disastrous for thousands of Californians.
This crisis will likely be over before legislative fixes take effect, but we can make sure this never happens again.