Pennsylvania jobless claims system gets 4-year, $115M pledge

Written by The Associated Press | Dec 20, 2017 6:27 PM

Photo by AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Claims examiner Penny Erney, who is undergoing chemotherapy, packs up her cubical at Office of Unemployment Compensation in Harrisburg, Pa., Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. Erney is one of about 500 workers at the state Department of Labor and Industry were spending their last day on the job Monday, before being laid off because of a funding dispute between the Wolf Administration and Senate Republicans.

(Harrisburg) -- Pennsylvania's unemployment compensation centers are getting a four-year, $115 million commitment from the state as Republican lawmakers pressure the Department of Labor and Industry to run the centers without state support after that.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation Wednesday committing the money to upgrade the unemployment claims processing system and hire more employees.

The state spent nearly $180 million under a 2013 law designed to improve the system, but Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has said most of the money probably went to pay employees.

Lawmakers approved another $15 million earlier this year after the department laid off 500 workers and closed three of eight service centers in a funding dispute with Senate Republicans.

Busy signals and wait times spiked as a result. Not all of those workers have been replaced.

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