LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)–House Speaker Jason Wentworth called on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to remove the Unemployment Insurance Agency Director, Liza Estlund Olsen.
“The simple truth is UIA isn’t getting the job done for Michigan families,” said Wentworth. “The people of this state need UIA’s help more than ever right now, and instead of rising to the challenge, they are letting us down over and over again. We have all waited long enough and given them more than enough chances, but it just isn’t getting any better. It is time for Gov. Whitmer to make a change and finally give people struggling with unemployment a fighting chance.”
Wentworth says the UIA continues to make management mistakes.
The mismanagement Wentworth discusses includes:
- UIA failed a federal monitoring report last winter and has still not fixed the problems that were uncovered eight months later. Director Estlund Olson skipped the meeting with the auditors where UIA was informed of their failures.
- UIA knowingly gave out benefits to ineligible recipients for months, and then sewed fear and confusion by sending 700,000 people a letter raising the possibility of back payments.
- UIA knowingly denied benefits to thousands of people who deserved help rather than update their software.
- UIA refused to hand over information regarding the back payment letters to the House Oversight Committee. The mistake was only brought to light when a third party gave the information to the Committee’s chair, Rep. Steve Johnson.
- UIA still has a backlog of 20,000 unpaid Michigan workers, 18 months into the pandemic and 10 months into Director Estlund Olson’s tenure.
- UIA waited 15 months to open any offices for in-person appointments, creating barriers for Michigan residents without reliable internet access.
“Our families, friends, and neighbors were put in a terrible position in this lockdown, and many of them are still desperate for help, but the UIA simply cannot or will not help them,” said Wentworth. “The stories I’ve heard from people in my community are absolutely heartbreaking, and I know we all know someone who shares the same struggles.”