By Lee Ohanian
Little did California businesses know that they were cosigners on the state’s nearly $20 billion loan from the federal government that was used to cover California’s unemployment fund shortfall during the COVID pandemic. This ugly truth became apparent when the state recently decided to stop making payments on this loan. When a state defaults on its federal unemployment insurance loan, federal law requires that the state’s businesses repay the loan.
What makes this default even more egregious is that the stone-age-era IT system of the state’s Employment and Development Department (EDD) opened the floodgates to bad actors, permitting more than $30 billion in fraudulent unemployment claims during the pandemic. Those receiving fraudulent payments include incarcerated felons, a person impersonating a one-year-old, and a person impersonating Senator Dianne Feinstein. A single residential address received checks for around 60 separate individuals filing from that address.