Newsmakers with JR
Monique: People Are Struggling Over Unemployment Benefits -- 'Reach Out to Us for Help'
Updated: Apr 27, 2020
Amid the economic crisis triggered by COVID-19, Assemblymember Monique Limon says that the most urgent concerns she is hearing from constituents focus on their difficulties navigating the state bureaucracy that controls unemployment insurance benefits.
"Reach out to us," Limon said in a Newsmakers interview, imploring newly unemployed residents in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties who are struggling to get benefits to contact her office. "People forget that's one of the reasons state legislators are here -- we will help you navigate" the system.
Limon is the incumbent in the 37th Assembly District, which includes chunks of both Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, and is all but certain to win election in November to the 19th State Senate District seat, in which she would represent about twice as many people living in the same two counties.
At present, she has calls, demands and entreaties flying at her from every direction, as she works on the countless problems for residents which are still emerging from the twin crises of a public health epidemic and the recession that it has triggered.
In our interview, she spoke about a wide range of issues which she is hustling to address, from increasing local capacity for diagnostic and serologic COVID-19 tests, to preventing outbreaks in nursing homes and among the homeless, while also scrambling to devise strategies to ease cuts in state funding for school districts, city and county governments.
The Legislature is officially out of session at least until early May, but Limon will travel to Sacramento next week for a special hearing of the budget education subcommittee on which she serves; at a time when state government is about to be pounded by a massive looming deficit, the Legislature is concerned, not only with oversight of massive spending Governor Newsom has unilaterally approved for the pandemic, but also on finding ways to manage precipitously declining tax revenue on behalf of public schools, health and welfare services.
Within the emergency, Monique said, much of her staff remains focused on straightforward constituent service, with casework for people struggling to obtain unemployment benefits a particularly pressing need.
Even before the pandemic, the Employment Development Department, which administers the UI program, gave the DMV a run for most exasperating, tear-your-hair-out experience produced by a state office. Now, as California's unemployment roll suddenly has spiked to some three million people, the online, telephone and fax (yes it still exists) application systems for the agency have been overwhelmed, even with hours extended and hundreds of employees from other departments brought in to help with the avalanche of claims.
Monique told us that helping folks facing such obstacles is what her office is there for; after the interview, she texted to ask us to run her contact information along with this story, for those needing assistance. So here it is:
Watch the whole interview by clicking below. The podcast version is here,