Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed legislation that would have removed the ability of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to evaluate instances of unemployment benefits overpayment and make waiver determinations for the liability of recipients repaying those funds. The provision would have effectively removed all liability for any unemployment benefit overpayment, except those resultant from fraud, knowing nondisclosure or misrepresentation or ineligibility, from the recipient of the overpayment.
“With the unemployment insurance fund $1.75 billion in debt, it is our responsibility to ensure that every State dollar spent on benefits is done correctly, lawfully and that any waste – whatever the cause – is rooted out,” said Governor Christie. “It would be fiscally imprudent, and possibly in conflict with federal law, to take away the Department’s ability to evaluate instances where an overpayment of benefits has occurred and make a case-by-case determination of whether a hardship waiver is in order.”
If the provision were included in the law, approximately $28 million would be annually exempted from any evaluation or scrutiny by the Department of Labor where an overpayment of benefits has occurred.
The conditional veto retains the goals of the legislation to prevent abuses in the Unemployment Insurance system, including improper delay or denial of benefits and increasing the number of days for a benefit determination to be appealed from the current 10 to 20 days.