North Country lawmaker calls for hearing on pandemic fraud audit

Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 5:07 PM EST
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - The state of New York has lost around $11 billion to improper unemployment payments during the pandemic, according to a new audit from the state’s comptroller.

At the onset of the pandemic when restrictions shelved the workforce, labor departments bypassed some checks on claims to get payments out the door. From April 2020 to March 2021, the state paid out 218 million payments totaling $76 billion. The audit blames New York’s antiquated IT systems.

Businesses are paying off a federal loan to cover some $7 billion in unemployment insurance payments. North Country Assemblyman Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay, is calling for hearings on the audit. “We should have put money in the budget to help with these small businesses. Now, those bills are coming due and we are asking them to pay the interest payments on it. Some of these businesses have never laid an employee off during the pandemic,” he said.

Last spring, Vermont labor officials estimated that millions had been paid out to fraudulent claims. A spokesperson Wednesday said they do not have any updated data.