In recent years during and after the recession people filing unemployment claims in California were often met with long delays for service and sometimes for their benefit checks.
Employment Development Director Patrick Henning, Jr. told the Senate Labor & Industrial Relations Committee conditions have improved. EDD will roll out a new computer system later this year. But Henning admits it won't solve all the problems.
"As much as I would love to say it's the best system, what I will tell you is that we are doing the best that we can with what we have," he says. "And, frankly, I think that what we are going to be rolling out will be a system that will get us to much better service."
Henning says the state still must figure out how to repay billions of dollars it borrowed from the federal government to keep the unemployment program afloat during the recession. And he says his department needs more money to maintain staffing levels.
"Even if we were to solve the state’s solvency problem, we would not be solvent for the state's chronic underfunding when it comes to the staff situation at my department, EDD," he says. "It is why we have had to come and ask for tens of millions of dollars from the state's General Fund."
Last year EDD was given additional money under the condition that it meet several goals to improve service. They include processing unemployment claims within three business days and responding to 50,000 phone calls a week. Henning says EDD has met those goals. The governor is proposing continuing the funding in this year's budget.