KS Secretary of Labor Delia Garcia submits resignation after over-drafting accounts of unemployment claimants in an attempt to “clawback” overpayments.
Governor Laura Kelly today announced changes in leadership of the Kansas Department of Labor and multiple actions she will be taking to address issues impacting the state’s handling of the large volume of unemployment claims.
According to a release from Kelly’s office, on June 10, a total of $7 million in duplicate payments were made to 4500 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and some Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation claimants. Without consulting Governor Kelly, on June 18th, KDOL began attempting to reverse the duplicate payments in a process known as a “clawback.” The clawback caused some PUA and FPUC recipients’ bank accounts to be overdrawn.
“As Governor, I’m responsible for KDOL’s handling of unemployment claims. I am taking immediate action to ensure Kansans who are out of work, through no fault of their own, are getting the assistance they need,” Governor Kelly said. “I want to thank Secretary García for her service to Kansas. While states around the country have struggled to manage unemployment claims during the worst public health crisis in a century, Secretary García inherited an agency that had its funding, its technology, and its staff gutted by the previous administration.”
The Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff Ryan Wright will serve as acting Secretary of Labor until a permanent candidate is nominated for appointment. Governor Kelly will also bring in specialists to look for ways to improve response times for Kansans applying for UI, implement new processes to manage the caseload, and mitigate future backlogs and errors that have occurred while attempting to deliver payments.
“These last few months have been unusually stressful on everyone. State government employees in Kansas and around the country have been asked to deal with an unusually high volume of activity. We have a responsibility to the people we represent to get it right. And when we don’t, we’ll make the changes needed to fix the problem,” Governor Kelly said. “I will use every resource at my disposal to ensure that we improve our response time to Kansans and build an infrastructure at KDOL that will be prepared in the event of further economic impacts from COVID-19.”