EDD prison fraud is the last straw for a state agency that has proven itself again and again to be unequal to the task

As residents of one of the highest taxed states in the nation, Californians‌have a right to expect the government they pay handsomely to provide the basic services their taxes fund.

Regrettably,‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌ pandemic expectations have been dashed for the most vulnerable Californians relying on Unemployment Insurance. The state ‌‌‌‌has failed them. This ‌is unacceptable, and these institutions must be held to account for their extreme failure. ‌ ‌

‌                  Since late March when California shut down businesses and schools to slow the spread of COVID-19, my staff has helped thousands of constituents who were unable to secure their unemployment insurance from an overwhelmed and backlogged EDD. EDD has blamed their computers, lack of staff and been given multiple opportunities for improvement, even halting claims processing for a two-week period for a system ‘reset.’ All to no avail. This happened to an estimated 350,000 Californians.

Just days after this unfortunate news came out, further scandal surrounding the EDD was revealed when nine local district attorneys throughout California went public with evidence of mass fraud involving federal, state and county inmates who have scammed an estimated $2 billion in fraudulent Unemployment Insurance claims. EDD has reached a new level of ineptitude when death row murderers are getting their UI claims processed while hard-working Californians who are owed their benefits get denied. ‌

It is time for the legislature to step in and hold immediate investigative hearings to determine what went wrong and ensure this never happens again. Clearly, the EDD is incapable of rectifying their system and Californians deserve better. The government has to face the fact that we have broken trust with the citizens of our state by not functioning as we should have. We must work diligently to fix this. We must earn that trust back.