COSTA MESA, CA – As Gov. Gavin Newsom locked down the economy in March, he acknowledged the challenges Californians would face. Newsom said, “These changes will cause real stress — especially for families and businesses least equipped financially to deal with them. The state of California is working closely with businesses who will feel the economic shock of these changes, and we are mobilizing every level of government to help families as they persevere through this global health crisis."
Yet, his rhetoric did not materialize into streamlined and accountable action. Instead of the Employment Development Department (EDD) taking the last six months to improve its system to accommodate the large new number of cases from the coronavirus lockdown, it has become a bureaucratic mess.
People without paychecks still wait six weeks or longer even to talk to the EDD, let alone get a resolution. The office of Sen. John M. W. Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, has fielded numerous calls from distraught constituents who just want the benefits they are entitled to after the Governor unilaterally shut their places of employment down.
Late Saturday evening, Gov. Newsom’s EDD Strike Team notified legislators it was halting new unemployment claims for two weeks during a “reset” with staff and technology. The action comes right after Sen. Moorlach joined 40 legislators in asking for an audit of the EDD, which is expected to begin soon.
“This is unacceptable,” said Sen. Moorlach. “The private sector would work on parallel tracks – use business hours to meet the needs of customers and the nonbusiness hours to reboot and modernize the internal systems.
“This abuse of California’s unemployed must end. The past six months my office has helped more than 700 constituents with EDD problems. For the EDD to halt new claims means more unneeded suffering. Rhode Island solved its computer problems by downloading free software. Adjusted for California’s higher volume, the same could be done here.
“The state that’s the center of the global computer industry should be at the forefront of service, not the end. The Governor should have people working around the clock to fix this problem.”