Can Ohio Get Unemployment Working?
In this week's episode of Snollygoster, Ohio's politics podcast from WOSU, hosts Mike Thompson and Steve Brown discuss the fraud and disarray in the state's unemployment system. State Rep. Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo), a member of the Unemployment Compensation Modernization and Improvement Council, joins the show.
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In this week's episode:
It's A Mess
Late last year, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services – which runs the state's unemployment system – estimated that more than half of the 1.5 million claims filed from May-December were flagged as potentially fraudulent. The payments total hundreds of millions of dollars.
The crooks have a sense of humor, too. Fraudulent claims were filed under the names of Gov. Mike DeWine and his wife Fran.
In addition to the fraud, people who needed unemployment and were entitled to it had to wait for hours to file. Then they waited weeks and weeks to get a check. Some people were mistakenly overpaid, and months later were told they owed hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Because of fraudulent claims, some people who were recently laid off were told they were ineligible, because someone had stolen their identity and filed a claim for them months ago.
The state has tried to fix the situation. Early on, it hired many new workers to keep up with the tsunami of claims, and now it is enlisting private industry to help fight the fraud.
The Ohio General Assembly created the Unemployment Compensation Modernization and Improvement Council months ago, but the group has barely started its work.
Snollygoster Of The Week: Tom Renz
Tom Renz is an attorney for Ohio Stands Up, a group that opposes DeWine’s health orders. He testified before a legislative committee to urge them to limit the governor’s power. His testimony was packed with debunked COVID-19 conspiracy theories.
When an anti-vaccine group called Ohio Advocates for Medical Freedom uploaded a portion Renz’s testimony to YouTube, the company found it so misleading and filled with misinformation that it took it down for violating its community guidelines.
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