This week, the General Assembly’s hearings began on Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed budget. Among the many issues discussed in questions and testimony during Wednesday’s Appropriations Committee Budget Hearing with the Department of Labor and Industry was the ongoing issue of funding the Unemployment Compensation Call Centers.
Though HB 2375 passed the House without controversy in October 2016, it was kept from receiving a vote in the Senate due to the political machinations of Senator Scott Wagner. This directly resulted in 521 employees losing their jobs on December 19. More than two months later, thousands of Pennsylvanians and their families have been affected by the staggering wait times in unemployment compensation benefit processing.
On Wednesday, Representative Schweyer, who has introduced a bill with language mirroring HB 2375, asked how quickly the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry could ramp processing back up. Secretary Kathy Manderino suggested a 3–6-week timeframe to resume operations in the closed call centers. She also emphasized the fact that a large influx of UC benefits applicants is expected on April 1.