SPRINGFIELD — After the release of a scathing report from the Illinois Auditor General, State Sen. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) is calling for a full audit of Gov. JB Pritzker’s management of the state’s unemployment programs.
On July 28, the Auditor General released a financial audit of the Illinois Department of Employment Security (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.
“Under the failed leadership of Governor JB Pritzker, the unemployment benefit system, which is designed to help Illinoisans in need, has now turned countless citizens into victims,” said Sen. Bryant. “This report shows that fraud and identity theft were allowed to run rampant while Governor Pritzker dragged his feet, and this is just the beginning of what we’re uncovering.”
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.
“For months, I’ve joined with my Republican colleagues to voice our concerns with IDES’s continued closures and the inability of the agency to address the numerous claims of fraud and identity theft,” said Sen. Bryant. “Despite being ignored by the Administration, it’s clear from this audit that our calls for action were justified.”
In April 2020, the federal government recommended that Illinois implement additional fraud-prevention tools. However, the Pritzker Administration failed to act.
“Measures could have been put in place to help protect the citizens of this state, but Governor Pritzker refused to act,” said Sen. Bryant. “No more excuses. We need to gauge the full extent of the state’s mismanagement.”
This is not the first time Senator Bryant has called for an audit of IDES. Earlier this year, she sponsored Senate Resolution 113 which also called on the Auditor General to conduct an audit of IDES and the unemployment benefits system.
The Auditor General’s findings can be found at https://www.auditor.illinois.gov/Audit-Reports/Compliance-Agency-List/Emp-Sec/FY20-IDES-Fin-Full.pdf.