LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Joseph Bellino on Thursday criticized Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s leadership after Michigan’s nonpartisan Office of the Auditor General reported her administration’s Unemployment Insurance Agency made an estimated $245.1 million in improper payments between January 2020 and October 2022 to dead people, prisoners, people in long-term care facilities, UIA contractors, department employees, and people outside the typical working age range.
“The governor blew through a historic multibillion-dollar surplus like Santa Claus with Christmas every weekend, and now we see that the whole time she did next to nothing to stop fraudulent spending,” said Bellino, R-Monroe. “It’s a failure of leadership, and to say that Gov. Whitmer and her administration have been wasteful with Michigan tax dollars would be a drastic understatement.
“Michigan’s unemployment system is funded entirely through taxes paid by employers. As we seek to attract new businesses and jobs to our state, we must end this reckless mismanagement. I am ready to work on a bipartisan basis to fix the UIA system to support unemployed workers while helping them get back to work.”
The OAG’s audit said that the UIA paid $35.6 million to incarcerated inmates, almost $20 million to dead people, $5.5 million to its own department’s employees, and nearly $178 million in unemployment aid to people whose ages likely would have precluded them from getting jobless aid — including over $90 million to teenagers younger than 15 years old.
The audit also found the UIA failed to attempt to identify a large share of imposter claims or to recover many payments and penalties. The report revealed the agency continued to issue payments even after discoveries that an individual was dead or in prison, noting the UIA did not identify or act to evaluate whether the payments were appropriate.
Wednesday’s report is the OAG’s fifth and final audit of the UIA looking into fraud, delays, and mispayments during the pandemic in response to a request made by the Senate in 2020 in Senate Concurrent Resolution 29, which called for a financial and performance audit of the UIA.