Alongside the other host of criticisms that Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) is receiving, Michigan’s rising unemployment rate under her strict shelter-in-place order continues to raise issues for her.
Michigan’s state-run unemployment portal, where Michigan residents would apply for benefits, crashed in mid-April, leaving the unemployed unable to receive help. Gov. Whitmer credited an overwhelmed system for the crash, as unemployment filings rapidly increased:
“Our system has been able to stand up to the increased demand, but it does need increased support and we’re working on that.”
Even some Michigan Democrats are calling on Gov. Whitmer to take action the state's failing system:
Rep. Sabo in letter to Governor Whitmer on unemployment system problems: "My office is receiving notifications from UIA that cases have been resolved when in fact, they haven't."— Zach Gorchow (@ZachGorchow) April 29, 2020
Though Gov. Whitmer promised that her administration was working toward improvements, Michigan’s Unemployment Agency Director indicates that the Whitmer administration may have been unprepared for the inevitable unemployment spike that would follow Gov. Whitmer’s strict executive order.
In an interview with Detroit News on Wednesday, the agency’s director, Steve Gray, was asked if Gov. Whitmer consulted with him before the shutdown order, and if the two had conversations about a lack of resources in the unemployment agency’s office before the governor issued the shut down on March 23. The director could not confidently say whether or not the Whitmer administration was adequately prepared for the surge in unemployment claims that was sure to follow:
“I don’t know whether or not they happened before March 23rd and I probably shouldn’t comment on any specific conversations that we’ve had with the governor’s office,” Gray told Detroit News.
Gov. Whitmer continually promises constituents that her priority is governance, and the job that Michigan voters elected her to do, but the vice presidential hopeful’s focus seems to be elsewhere.
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