ST. CHARLES – Following a report from the Illinois Auditor General detailing the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) making billions of dollars in overpayments between Fiscal Years 2020 and 2022, St. Representative Dan Ugaste (R-Geneva) expressed his outrage and concern. This report was released on Wednesday, reporting overpayments, including those due to fraud, in this time period from IDES totaling $5.24 billion.
“Our unemployment system during and following the COVID pandemic has been nothing short of a disaster,” said Rep. Ugaste. “This report and IDES’ lack of accountability is atrocious. The outdated system that was supposed to help Illinoisans during a critical time, while protecting State funds, is frankly embarrassing. System updates recommended by the Department of Labor to prevent such problems still have not been implemented. We need to call hearings in the General Assembly to get to the bottom of this and find out what we can do so this never happens again. Our constituents trust us to protect them and their money in Springfield; we owe it to them to get answers.”
The Wednesday report from Auditor General Frank Mautino found that regular Unemployment Insurance overpayments totaled $2.04 billion, including those due to fraud, and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) totaled $3.2 billion. According to this report, many pandemic decisions intended to eliminate or decrease delays to pay claims as soon as possible used as IDES’ defenses against fraud could not handle the increase in activity and were therefore disabled. The data also showed payments made to deceased and incarcerated individuals totaling $46.5 million.
Rep. Ugaste had previously called for immediate hearings into IDES operations in June 2022 after a prior state audit revealed nearly $2 billion in PUA were payments tied to fraud. Rep. Ugaste is the House Republican Spokesperson for the Labor & Commerce and Judiciary – Civil Committees.