Tuesday, September 28, 2010

NC Governmental Beaucracy at its Best.

In today's News & Observer, there is a front-page article about how the state's Employment Security Commision, or ESC, actually overpaid a few people that were on its roll. Thankfully, it's really not a big deal. Some estimate the over-payment amount at somewhere around $28 million. Whew! I thought it might be somewhere around a more understandable few hundred thousand dollars.

From the article, the problem appears to be an issue of paying constituents from the wrong funding, which involves federally funded unemployment extensions. Accounts the state uses to pay unemployment benefits were starting to be overdrawn, and then someone noticed a problem.

Fortunately, for the citizenry of this great state, the ESC is wasting more money sending letters to those it overpaid to let them know of the error. And not only are they letting them know about the error, but also letting them know they may also be required to re-pay the state. Yes sir!

As a citizen taxpayer, I would love to have the citizens pay back the money simply to keep my taxes down. But as a taxpayer, I believe it to be completely unfair to the affected individuals. It is a misguided notion to ask people that are considered "long-term unemployed" (as this is who the error generally affects) to repay benefits that were incorrectly given to them. Yes, I know some will call this stealing. Well, the individuals didn't rob a bank in the middle of the night. All they did was . . . nothing. At the worst, you could probably blame them for continuing to report that they are unemployed. In this economy, if you were unemployed and your benefits kept coming in, would you turn them down?

Supposedly, those affected can ask for a "waiver" and have the re-payment forgiven, but its not known what criteria will be used to grant these "waivers."

Eventually, the state needs to take the blame for sloppy record keeping, among other things. When a person's unemployment benefits start, they are automatically set to expire after a set amount of weeks. Well, at least they were. Maybe the state should look to its own automated processes as the culprit. But you can't get money from a computer, and that's what this all boils down to, recouping money. The state made an error, and the citizens have to pay. Again.

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