Archive for Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Political fight erupts on jobless audit

Democrat criticizes news release as ‘partisan attack’

January 30, 2007

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— A partisan fight erupted Monday stemming from a state audit that shows Kansas ranks first in the nation in "overpayments" of jobless benefits.

Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said he wants state Rep. Peggy Mast, R-Emporia, to step down as chairwoman of the Legislative Post Audit Committee.

The Post Audit Committee is a bipartisan group of House and Senate members who oversee the audit arm of state government.

Hensley said Mast issued a "partisan attack" against the Kansas Department of Labor, which is headed by Jim Garner, a member of Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' Cabinet.

But Mast said her comments were not partisan. She said she issued a news release because she was concerned about the Labor Department's efforts in correcting the so-called overpayments.

"This is not an attack on the Democrats. I just want to stand for good policy," she said.

The audit showed that Kansas had the highest overpayment rate of any state in the nation from 2003 through 2005.

During 2005, the department reported, the overpayment rate was nearly 45 percent of the $256 million in benefits, while the national average was less than 10 percent.

But state officials said the overpayments were based on technical problems and not related to jobless people getting paid through fraudulent means.

Almost all of the overpayments occurred because unemployed workers didn't register for job services, as required by state law. So they weren't considered eligible for jobless benefits even though they continued to collect them.

But Garner argued the job-services requirement was outdated because most workers were able to find new jobs without using the services.

After the audit's release, Mast and other Republicans issued a statement on letterhead from the Kansas House Republican Caucus saying they were alarmed by the audit's findings and disappointed in the Labor Department's administration.

Hensley, a 31-year legislative veteran, said for Republican lawmakers to issue a news release like that was "about as low a point in the post-audit process that I've seen."

Mast said after the meeting Friday when the audit was reviewed, she went to House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, to seek direction on what she should do to get the word out about the audit because she was concerned about its findings.

He offered the services of his staff to issue the news release, she said.

Noting the audit, she said, "I think my concerns are valid."

Comments

KS 8 years, 5 months ago

Having had some first hand experience with this program, and I will not reveal any more than that, I am not surprised that things are in a mess. If you have rules in place, enforce them. Looking the other way resolves nothing. Don't like the rules? Change them. Clean it up.

ksknowall 8 years, 5 months ago

SURPRISE, SURPRISE SURPRISE

Gomer help us!

Government programs fail and we keep them going by attempting to continually tweak them.

HA - ending them is the only way to FIX these poorly performing government activities.

dizzy_from_your_spin 8 years, 5 months ago

Hensley, a 31-year legislative veteran, said for Republican lawmakers to issue a news release like that was "about as low a point in the post-audit process that I've seen."<

Yes, Tony, kill the messenger. A $115M overpayment is something the State should keep under wraps until the Dems could come up with better spin:

But Garner argued the job-services requirement was outdated because most workers were able to find new jobs without using the services.<

Pretty lame, Jim. More workers filing claims would have meant more wasted money. You need to go.

How did Sebelius miss $115M in her top-to-bottom audit? How many lights and computers will we need to shut off to make up for this incompetence, Kathleen?

First the SRS, now the DOL: what's next during this all-show-no-go Sebelius administration?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

"If you have rules in place, enforce them. Looking the other way resolves nothing. Don't like the rules? Change them. Clean it up."

"Looking the other way" would mean denying payments to unemployed people who probably really need the money. And while the rules may need changing, why haven't they been changed? Could it be because the same Republican lawmakers who made such a big deal about this report don't want unemployed folks to get the benefits they deserve?

bob98349834 8 years, 5 months ago

What about all those Republican Governers and Secretaries looked the other way since the 80's.

Secretary Garner looked at solving the problem, the regulation change was approved by the committees and feds.

Like usual, the republicans first are in denial that there is a problem, and then pounce on the democrats who try to fix it.

Shame on you!

james bush 8 years, 5 months ago

Kansas dems about the same as national dem committee..........give the $ away and create friends for the democrats, the political "victims-are-us" party.

james bush 8 years, 5 months ago

Actually the repubs came to be as bad nationally with the g d pork barrel crap they pulled. Enough to make people vote democrat!

james bush 8 years, 5 months ago

Let's just quit working and become democrats, join the aclu and wait for the money to come in.

bob98349834 8 years, 5 months ago

Who shut down the walk in centers - Republicans Who created the registration web site - Republicans Who is complaining about the effect from the changes they introduced - Republicans Who are the Republicans blaming - Democrats

Shame on you!

KS 8 years, 5 months ago

Those nasty Republicans! Bozo, I don't anyone that wants to deny UE benefits to the unemployed. I know a whole bunch of folks that don't want to waste our money. That is what is happening. I don't know where you got the idea that when I said, "Looking the other way resolves nothing". What I meant by that statement was that if we, the people, look the other way and ignore the problem, it will not be resolved. Touchy! Your statement implied that you would look the other way and ignore the problem. That philosophy has gone far too long.

Godot 8 years, 5 months ago

"What about all those Republican Governers and Secretaries looked the other way since the 80's."

This report covers the time period from 2003 to 2005, right smack in the middle of Her Highness' efficiency effort. $115M of fradulent payments in two years is a big, big deal for a state this size.

budwhysir 8 years, 5 months ago

could a political fight cause an increase in jobless numbers in the audit????

budwhysir 8 years, 5 months ago

Politicaly speaking, politics is about political correctness and plolitical speaking. However politicaly speaking, politics is a political matter

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