By Ophelia Garrett
It would appear the Alabama Department of Labor overpaid some people by millions of dollars during the Covid shutdowns, and they’re blaming it on technical issues. Now, the debate is how to fix the problem.
The Alabama Department of Labor allegedly experienced significant technological issues and staffing shortages causing delays and dysfunction during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to documents sent by state to the U.S. Department of Labor.
“Just before the pandemic hit, budget constraints dictated reducing an already strained workforce. Within months of the ADOL staff reductions, the state-mandated closures forced unprecedented claim loads,” the state department reported to the federal department in February of 2022.
According to AL.com, “In total, Alabama reported overpaying $164 million unemployment dollars to its residents between 2020 and 2021.”
And now they are sending residents bills, some to the tune of $20,000, in hopes of recovering some of the loss. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey called the backlog “outrageous,” and called upon the Alabama Department of Labor to find solutions to the overpayment problem.
“We have asked (Labor) Secretary (Fitzgerald) Washington to provide us with solutions to resolve this concerning situation, as well as the outrageous backlog,” Gina Maiola, a spokesperson for the governor, told AL.com last Thursday, adding that Alabamians should not be made to pay for the government’s mistakes.
“At the end of the day, the agency approved and paid out the claims.”-- Gov. Kay Ivey (R-AL)