District 13, Monmouth County, NJ: Senator Declan O’Scanlon, Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso, and Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger (all R-Monmouth) called for the Governor and Department of Labor to commit to ending the backlog of unemployment claims as soon as possible in a joint statement today:

Sen. O’Scanlon, Asw. DiMaso, and Asm. Scharfenberger are supporting unemployed residents who are frustrated by delays in processing their claims, calling on Gov. Murphy and the labor commissioner to end the backlog. 

“The volume of calls we are getting to our legislative offices from those having issues with unemployment claims is unprecedented, even compared to the calls we received during Sandy. Families are terrified and struggling simply to put food on their tables. We need to add staff, hours, and resources immediately to end the backlog of claims.

“We’ve been cutting the Governor and the Department of Labor Commissioner some slack and accepted that the initial surge of claims overwhelmed our incredibly outdated system. We want to be clear, we praise and thank the stressed and overwhelmed Department of Labor staff and their responsiveness to our offices.

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“However, we are a month into this unemployment crisis and people are running out of money they need to feed their families and fill life-preserving prescriptions. This is simply unacceptable, and we can’t tell our residents to just ‘sit and wait’ until someone gets to their claim. Many have now been waiting for a month. They have been patient, but they can’t afford to be patient any longer. How could any of us blame them? The very people filing claims would be happy to take any job helping others file claims. We need to cut whatever red-tape necessary in order to get this done. The hourly phone line operations need to be expanded, including Saturdays and Sundays.

“We must set, and meet, a hard and fast goal to eliminate the disastrously large backup of claims. These recommendations should be implemented, so we see improvement immediately, with the goal to be through the backlog by April 22 at the latest. We are calling on the Governor and the Department of Labor to commit to that goal. Those of us in the Legislature stand ready to work to make that happen.”