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Workgroup raises questions about Maryland’s flawed unemployment system

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A spending workgroup estimates that as much as $2 billion in unemployment benefits may have gone to fraudsters during the unprecedented expansion of jobless assistance during the pandemic, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said Thursday.

That’s out of a total of $13 billion the state’s Department of Labor has paid out since the COVID-19 pandemic began causing layoffs in March 2020.

Franchot did not explain how he reached the $2 billion number, but fraud was a theme throughout Thursday’s meeting of the Pandemic Spending Workgroup in Annapolis, where a panel of financial experts questioned a Department of Labor representative.

“This is the single greatest highway robbery of the national treasury and the state treasury in Maryland’s history and the country’s history, and it is something that we need to get to the bottom of,” Franchot said. “There’s no way anything is going to be hidden from this workgroup.”

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot speaks to an audience during a town hall at Headquarters Live on Monday, Feb. 13, 2017.

Franchot expressed frustration that the Department of Labor representative, Deputy Secretary David McGlone, did not bring answers to many of the questions that the workgroup provided two weeks ago.

McGlone repeatedly told workgroup members that he could not answer their questions or would get back to them with additional information. 

“Frankly, I just find it completely unacceptable and frustrating that the department, and I’m not blaming you, David, is just completely unprepared to answer, even partially, our questions,” Franchot said.

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Source: GANNETT Syndication Service