Gov. Kelly blames Brownback administration for current KDOL unemployment crisis

This screenshot shows Gov. Laura Kelly, D-Kansas, delivering her State of the State address...
This screenshot shows Gov. Laura Kelly, D-Kansas, delivering her State of the State address virtually Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021.(KS Governor's Office)
Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 4:59 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansans looking for solutions were left wanting Monday afternoon when Gov. Laura Kelly and acting Secretary Amber Schulz gave an update on the Kansas Department of Labor. Kelly blamed the former Brownback administration, alleging that they ended modernization efforts 2 years in the making in 2011. She again blamed the so-called Browback “tax experiment”, something she referenced most recently in her state-of-the-state address and often on the campaign trail.

The governor began the news conference, saying she was going to “speak to every Kansan who has had trouble accessing the system”. She reminded everyone that the IT system is 44 years old--that Jimmy Carter was sworn in as governor and Elvis died the same year it was originally implemented. The governor praised the agency for attempting to process claims in the midst of unprecedented fraudulent attacks. A recent $1.4 million upgrade to the system has allowed them to fend off nearly 5 million bot/fraud attacks so they can actually process legitimate claims.

“Right now we need to support our unemployed Kansans in every way possible,” Governor Kelly said. “I hear you, and I’m doing everything in my power to fix things.”

Kelly said they hope to put the IT system out to bid by this summer. She urged Kansas lawmakers to approve her budget which includes 37.5 million for IT modernization. The governor is asking the feds to provide dollars as well. She said Kansas is one of three states with outdated systems that are desperately in need of help.

The one ray of hope was that the call center will increase by another 100 people. Kelly said that KDOL had 20 people in the call center when she first took office--that ballooned to 450, and now they will be adding an additional 100 individuals. However, Friday we reported that KDOL said they actually 1,000 (a thousand) more--a number they admitted is unrealistic.

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