In one of the first endeavors of his second term, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is launching an investigation into the state’s unemployment compensation program.
For months, funding for the program has been at the center of a bitter standoff between Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the GOP-led Senate.
The trouble started at the end of the last legislative session.
The Senate was scheduled to vote on a bill that would have extended a dedicated funding stream that was earmarked for improvements to the unemployment compensation program.
But the chamber didn’t hold a vote, citing concerns the funds were being mismanaged.
In the fallout, more than 500 unemployment compensation employees were laid off, and, a month later, the Senate and the Wolf administration are still pointing fingers.
DePasquale said he feels the situation needs arbitration.
“It may be that one side is right and the other side is wrong, or there is a middle road, but we do want to provide our own independent analysis to this so we can at least help break the stalemate, and even more importantly, provide a meaningful path forward,” he said.
His staff has already begun combing through the program’s financial records to see if the Senate’s allegations of mismanagement hold water.
DePasquale said he expects the investigation will wrap up in April, in the midst of debate over the new state budget.