This just in from Lt. Gov. Diane Denish's office
: The state will spend $240,000 to hire "10 additional temporary employees, provide enhancements to call handling, and upgrade computers" for the Department of Workforce Solutions, which has been the subject of complaints on its sluggish response time to new unemployment claims.
Lessee here... Even if all of the money goes to hire the new temps, that works out to $24,000 a year each—and, presumably, them being temps and all, no bennies.
Update 2:30 p.m.-ish
: Another release, this one from Gov. Bill Richardson's office, with more detail... "The [$240,000] emergency loan [from the state Board of Finance] will pay for 10 temporary employees dedicated to processing unemployment claims. The employees are currently in training and will start processing claims next Tuesday. The loan will also allow the department to enhance its interactive voice response system
and buy new computers and software upgrades to increase efficiency at the unemployment call center.
Uh-oh. This is the solution? "For English, press one or say, 'English.' Para Espanol, oprima..."
Read the announcement(s) after the cut.
State of New Mexico
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
Diane D. Denish
For Immediate Release Contact: Danielle Montoya
Tuesday, February 3, 2009 (Santa Fe)
State Board of Finance Approves $240K in Emergency Funding to Manage Increasing Unemployment Demands
Santa Fe – Lt. Governor Diane D. Denish, Acting Chair of the State Board of Finance, led a vote to get the Department of Workforce Solutions $240,000 in emergency funds to help manage increasing unemployment demands.
“Our duty to New Mexican's most in need is to be responsive. The increase in our unemployment rate has created a gap between service resources and demand,” said Lt. Governor Denish. “The emergency funds will add 10 additional temporary employees, provide enhancements to call handling, and upgrade computers for faster response. We want to be sure New Mexican's are receiving the unemployment benefits they desperately need to make ends meet.”
Board of Finance Approves Emergency Loan for Improvements to State Unemployment Claims System
SANTA FE-Governor Bill Richardson today applauded the Board of Finance for taking quick action to approve a $240,000 emergency loan to the Department of Workforce Solutions. The loan will cover costs of improvements Governor Richardson ordered in response to increased demand from New Mexicans trying to access unemployment benefits in recent weeks.
“This loan will enable us to expand on those improvements we've already made to the state's unemployment benefit process and which have significantly cut down on the wait time for those seeking benefits,” Governor Richardson said. “With better tools and more people processing claims, we'll continue to make it easier for New Mexicans to get the benefits they need to get back on their feet.”
The emergency loan will pay for 10 temporary employees dedicated to processing unemployment claims. The employees are currently in training and will start processing claims next Tuesday. The loan will also allow the department to enhance its interactive voice response system and buy new computers and software upgrades to increase efficiency at the unemployment call center.
Those improvements ordered by Governor Richardson on January 14, 2009 and which are already in place include:
· The Department of Workforce Solutions has moved to a seven-day-a-week schedule and has extended its Monday-Friday operation from 7a.m. to 7 p.m., added Saturday availability from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and operates on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for certifications only.
· 14 state employees from across state government with the skills necessary to immediately step in and help have been temporarily reassigned to the Department of Workforce Solutions.
· Paper applications are available at certain high-population areas where trained staff can handle them. 731 paper claims have been taken in the first two weeks of accepting them at the local offices.
· Manager and mid-level management personnel have been re-directed to assist with the processing of benefits.