Harrisburg – April 25, 2017 – A $15 million transfer to temporarily aid the processing of unemployment compensation claims, remove backlogs and result in the hiring of 200 workers laid off last year was signed into law as Act 1 yesterday afternoon by Gov. Tom Wolf, state Sen. Christine Tartaglione (D-Philadelphia) said today.

Tartaglione, who serves as Democratic chair of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee, was cited by the governor along with other labor committee leaders for their work in moving the measure (Senate Bill 250) through the General Assembly.

The funding imbroglio that imperiled the claims system, created delays, closed call centers and prompted the furloughing of 500 call center workers in December emerged when Republican lawmakers questioned how prior funding transfers to Service and Infrastructure Improvement Fund (SIIF) were used.y

Tartaglione issued the following statement concerning the temporary funding fix that was approved by the governor:

“The $15 million in temporary funding will result in the rehiring of 200 workers, reduce call times and improve access to the claims system. However, all recognize that this is a short-term solution and that we all need to get back to work ensuring that resources are available to process claims and help those who are unemployed over the long haul.

“For too long, the system was in flux because of the funding issue and men and women who lost their jobs had to overcome even higher obstacles to access benefits. We cannot let this situation happen again. That’s why I am pleased that we are working on a long-term fix in a bipartisan way.”

State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released his audit of SIIF today. He indicated that while improvements were made to the system, there was a failure to use proper accounting methods and oversight was lacking. His audit found that additional state funds are needed to keep the U.C. call centers operational and working at acceptable levels.

He said the state Department of Labor and Industry indicated it needed $159.5 million in funds over the next four years to maintain service and modernize. He noted that during the SIIF funding impasse, there were long delays and busy signals on 99.3 percent of the calls into call centers.