OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Unemployed Oklahomans say they still have many unanswered questions about why their bank accounts are still empty, many of them not receiving any money from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.
“Our families can’t hold on for much longer,” said U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn.
Horn and State Senator Mary Boren say they’re personally going to bat for the state’s most vulnerable.
“I really do believe we’ll find a vaccine for COVID-19 before we solve the institutional infrastructural problems,” said Boren.
But some legislators say that help could be in jeopardy.
KFOR acquired an email sent to the entire House of Representatives from another representative, who KFOR is choosing not to name.
The representative had allegedly just gotten off of a conference call with the OESC, saying OESC employees are being told not to work directly with legislators, saying, “If you are actively promoting on Facebook or any other networks or avenues for your constituents to contact you if they are having issues, your claims will not be submitted.”
“I know that there’s certain people that might be upset with a legislator making themselves so available, but that doesn’t pay a person’s bill,” said Boren.
To make matters worse, the representative went on to say that the system handling Oklahoma’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims, or PUAs, doesn’t fully exist yet.
“It is obscene that we reopened the state of Oklahoma and we have not processed a single PUA claim,” said State Representative Andy Fugate.
OESC told KFOR Monday that most of the 58,000 PUA claims are being worked through manually.
When we asked Thursday if the system was up and running, an OESC representative told KFOR that Oklahoma has a fully automated system in place and is one of the first states to do so.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of PUA claimant have yet to see a dime.
“The measure of our success is not the messaging through information officers; we have to look at the faces of the people of Oklahoma,” said Sen. Boren.
“I would encourage OESC to spend more time working on their systems,” said Rep. Fugate.
U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn says a new unemployment survey her team completed shows 80 percent of people who answered say they haven’t seen any unemployment money and have been waiting over a month.
Another unemployment rally is scheduled at the state capitol Friday, May 22.