Yesterday, the Office of the Illinois Auditor General released a report detailing extensive overpayments related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including massive amounts of fraud and identity theft, by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) totaling $5.24 billion. State Representative Jeff Keicher (R-Sycamore) released the following statement in response.
“Amid the Covid crisis, residents across Illinois were receiving notices from former and current employers, or from unfamiliar names, asserting they had been dismissed from their jobs and were now eligible for unemployment benefits. The signs were rampant that we had fraud galore within the unemployment system, yet we had zero response from the Governor’s Administration to address this fraud.
“We in the legislature sought initial numbers from the Administration and IDES to address the spiraling fraud. However, we were rejected at every turn and now we know why. The Auditor General report released yesterday clearly shows that more than $5 billion in overpayments, rife with fraud, were paid through the unemployment system because of a complete failure to operate the system appropriately. The net result of that has been additional taxation on every single job in Illinois to close both the deficit created and to pay into a new pool of unemployment insurance.
“Unemployment insurance is one of the most important safety nets that we establish for workers. To have such a callous disregard for protecting the resources that protect our workers when they are laid off is beyond the pale. I have mentioned multiple times over the past three years to both the Governor and other members of his Administration that this needs to be addressed. To date, we are still waiting for a response and a plan to improve the situation going forward.
“I am utterly dismayed by this ongoing level of negligence. Going forward, I will continue to call for change and seek reform to ensure the responsible use of resources to minimize the burden that failures like this place on taxpayers and families in Illinois.”
Rep. Keicher serves the 70th District, which includes portions of DeKalb, Kane, and McHenry Counties.