LANSING — For nearly a year, House Democrats have called for restitution for individuals who were victims of the mismanaged Unemployment Insurance Agency. During that time, Gov. Rick Snyder has been adamant that victims should only be reimbursed for the principal, interest and penalties — nothing else. This week, Gov. Snyder reversed course, admitted responsibility and agreed that a fund should be created to provide UIA victims with damages to get their lives back on track. While Lansing Republicans chose to adjourn rather than take action to establish this fund or allocate resources, Michigan House Democrats remain committed to working families and called for immediate action on legislation to address this issue when they return to session in January.
“You should never be penalized for a mistake someone else made. I am glad that Gov. Snyder is finally taking responsibility for the mismanagement of the UIA system and has committed to taking action to help falsely accused Michiganders rebuild their lives,” said state Rep. Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores), a member of the bipartisan UIA workgroup that met beginning in February to write the package of UIA reform bills sent to the governor for his signature this week. “I was pleased we were able to come to a consensus on how to fix our UIA system so that no one will be in this situation ever again, but until we create a fund and dedicate resources to helping UIA victims get their lives back, we haven't done our job. I look forward to working with the governor to ensure that families are made whole when we get back to Lansing in January.”
Fighting for the Michiganders who were harmed by the Snyder-Schuette administration has been a top priority for House Democrats all year. State Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Township) introduced legislation earlier this year that would have fully reimbursed victims for damages including expenses incurred because of the false fraud allegations, lawyer costs, bankruptcy and foreclosure expenses, and late fees. Republican lawmakers, however, refused to let his bill receive a hearing.
On Wednesday, Rep. Camilleri offered an amendment to a supplemental appropriations bill, to take $50 million from the Unemployment Insurance Agency’s existing Penalties and Interest fund to pay damages to claimants. House Republicans refused to adopt his amendment, denying Michigan workers wronged by the Snyder-Schuette administration a chance to be made whole.
“Since the day I took office, I’ve been fighting for Michigan’s working families. That’s why I’ve introduced legislation and amendments to keep more money in hardworking Michiganders’ pockets, where it belongs. That includes making sure that families who were harmed by false fraud allegations are fairly compensated,” Rep. Camilleri said. “When working people do better, our entire state benefits, and that’s why we’re going to continue fighting for them the way we’ve done all year — addressing pocketbook issues like lowering the cost of prescription drugs, giving Michigan businesses and workers a leg up and urging investment in high-quality schools.”