Lawmakers introduce bill to help alleviate state unemployment backlog

Several Republican lawmakers in New Jersey have created a plan to remedy the backlog at the state Department of Labor’s unemployment office.
State Sen. Michael Testa and state Assemblymen Antwan McClellan and Erik Simonsen have created a bill that would force Department of Labor employees to return to the office. This would ensure New Jersey residents waiting on their unemployment benefits would get face-to-face meetings to correct any problems.
If workers fail to return to work, the bill would issue a pay cut for the leaders running the department. The money would then go to those residents who aren’t getting paid.
An editorial in the Jersey Journal recently called on Gov. Phil Murphy to fix the Department of Labor, saying that if it was a private business, the government would investigate.
Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo is the target of the criticism. The governor has defended the DOL.
News 12 New Jersey has been reporting on issues with unemployment since the COVID-19 pandemic began. News 12 spoke with one woman who says she is waiting on $10,000.
Jeannine Sturm says that she has to cash in her child’s college fund and that one little error in the unemployment process has meant nearly five months of delays.
"I feel like they're reading from a script every time they call. It’s the same explanations, the same comments, no matter what,” she says. “No one can give me an idea of how long it’s going to take. And I prepared for this. I knew my contract was going to end in September. I had money put away for two months knowing there were problems.”
Sturm says that she has been living with her mother to save money. She says that she recently got a new job, but still has not seen any the money she is owned by the state.