Sen. Melendez: EDD is a ‘disaster,’ people losing out on jobless benefits

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Melissa Melendez
California State Senator Melissa Melendez. Valley News/Courtesy photo

RIVERSIDE (CNS) – A Riverside County legislator said Monday, Aug. 31 one constituent received over 100 letters addressed to several dozen people slated to receive unemployment benefits, highlighting why the Employment Development Department should be audited.
“Can we get serious about the absolute disaster that is the EDD?” Sen. Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, said. “Millions of Californians are waiting for their state assistance and have not received anything or even spoken to real people.”
According to Melendez, the constituent, whose name was not disclosed, dropped by her district office in Murrieta and handed her staff a total of 116 envelopes from the EDD addressed to 33 individuals.
Several of the envelopes contained debit cards, and the intended recipients had addresses in a variety of places, including Chula Vista, Sacramento and San Jose, Melendez said.
“These kinds of actions are unacceptable, and the governor needs to take responsibility to fix EDD that goes beyond a strike team,” Melendez said.
“The taxpayers of this state expect more from their government. It is time for the governor and the majority party of this state to address this EDD crisis and fix the EDD.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Melendez has been calling for an audit throughout the legislative session, pointing to problems with how jobless claims have been handled ever since filings began mushrooming amid the coronavirus emergency.
The government public health lockdowns of economic sectors pushed the statewide unemployment rate above 16% earlier this summer.
Problems with EDD mailings have been documented by various sources. KABC-TV Channel 7 ran a report in the first week of August revealing how a West Palm Beach, Florida, resident received a dozen letters from EDD, without explanation.
According to the report, the man had no relationship to any of the individuals to whom the letters were addressed.
He worried they might contain unemployment checks and did not want to risk sending them to the EDD for fear they might get lost in the shuffle. Instead, he sent them to the California Department of Justice, along with a complaint, KABC reported.
Melendez had proposed a formal audit of EDD before July 1, 2021, and sought to have the audit requirement included in Assembly Bill 107, introduced as part of the current fiscal year spending package.
The bill requires EDD officials provide biweekly updates on unemployment filings, including data on “claims paid, those found ineligible and have not been certified,” according to a Senate analysis.
Melendez’s amendment to AB 107 was rejected. The Senate approved the measure today, and it is now bound for Newsom’s desk.