New Jersey's 1st Legislative District

Senator Michael Testa

Senator Michael Testa

Testa: Heartbreaking, Compelling Testimony at Unemployment System Hearing Should Drive Fixes

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Senator Michael Testa said he hoped heartbreaking and compelling testimony provided at Friday’s independent hearing on New Jersey’s broken unemployment system would drive Governor Phil Murphy to invest in critical upgrades.

Sen. Michael Testa said he hoped heartbreaking and compelling testimony provided at the independent hearing on New Jersey’s broken unemployment system would drive Governor Phil Murphy to invest in critical upgrades. (YouTube/NJ Senate Republicans)

“We heard heartbreaking stories from real people who were failed and let down by New Jersey’s unemployment system,” said Testa (R-1). “”These unemployed workers told us about the frustration of busy signals, website errors, and rude agents when they finally got through to a live person to discuss their claims. They explained the challenges of trying to survive while waiting months to receive the unemployment benefits they earned. The single message they all had is that the New Jersey’s unemployment system is broken and needs to be fixed. I hope Governor Murphy was listening.”

The legislators heard from mainframe and COBOL expert Bill Hinshaw, who suggested the high-end cost to overhaul New Jersey’s unemployment system at $50 to $60 million, with impactful fixes possible in as little as a few months.

Some of the quicker changes include upgrading to newer mainframes and implementing the most recent version of COBOL.

“We heard that a major overhaul of our decades-old unemployment system is affordable with basic changes that would greatly increase speed and capacity possible in just two to three months,” added Testa. “It’s unbelievable that we’re now a year into this unemployment system nightmare and haven’t implemented fixes that could have been done months ago. When New Jersey has received $8 or $9 billion in direct federal relief funds over the past year, Governor Murphy has no excuse for refusing to spend the $50 million it would tax to fix the UI system. Despite what the governor has said, it is not a waste of money to ensure that the system works for unemployed New Jerseyans who need their claims to be resolved quickly.”

CLICK HERE to view video from the hearing. Timestamp links to witness testimony are included in the video description.

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