Rep. Kendra Horn sends letter to Gov. Stitt asking how to assist unemployment problem

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Hundreds of Oklahomans lined up outside the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission this week, hoping to get assistance with unemployment relief. Now, Washington, D.C. is trying to step in to help.

“With the treatment of all of us, it kind of seems intentional. It kind of feels like they only want to help the people that are begging and pleading,” said Cayla Hamby, who was waiting outside OESC.

“The Oklahomans that are teetering on the edge, that are trying to figure out where to turn next, they can’t wait any longer,” said Rep. Kendra Horn, OK 5th District.

Horn sent a letter to Gov. Kevin Stitt, Friday morning, asking what additional resources can be provided from a federal level to help out.

“That’s why in the middle of March we passed the Families First Act. We provided $11 million dollars to the state of Oklahoma to begin addressing those needs,” Horn said. “We’ve got to get it fixed. We have to get them the support that they need. We have to speed up the process.”

Horn says this is the second letter her team has sent to Stitt in the last few months.

KFOR spoke with the OESC’s Shelley Zumwalt on the issues the agency has been facing.

The biggest challenge? The old system, which Zumwalt said is from the 1980s.

“If I could do two things, it would be to replace that mainframe, go back in time and do that, and hire 100 people and give them the instant knowledge to be able to process claims,” Zumwalt said.

The Governor’s Office sent KFOR the following statement in response:

“Governor Stitt has deployed some of the State’s best problem solvers from other departments to assist with the challenges at OESC but trying to implement fundamental changes to unemployment while using technology that is decades outdated is a significant obstacle.

The governor is pleased to hear OESC is increasing the opportunities for Oklahomans to have their claims processed in person next week and is committed to providing OESC the support it needs to resolve the remaining claims.”

The OESC tells KFOR they have been hiring people to help process unemployment claims, but they are having to train them on the old system.

In the meantime, OESC agents will be set up inside Midwest City’s Reed Center next week to help people directly.

That will be for the next two Wednesdays And Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 1-2 and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 8-9

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