The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

Unemployment Roundtable Ends With Warning on ESC Woes

with one comment

After nearly three hours of presentations, questions and answers, and dialogue among state leaders about South Carolina’s unemployment situation, Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom ended Tuesday’s roundtable discussion with a bombshell.

The S.C. Employment Security Commission – the agency responsible for assisting out-of-work South Carolinians get back into the labor force – is having tremendous problems with its accounting procedures and still hasn’t closed its books for FY08-2009, he said.

“I’m to the point of asking if the state should be sending in a SWAT team to provide assistance,” Eckstrom said. “We need to bring in competent financial resources to complete the accounting that should have been done six weeks ago.

“Until they’re able to close out their books and have an outside auditor review them, we can’t close the state’s books and we can’t get a consolidated financial statement for the state as a whole,” he added.

State agencies had until Sept. 30 to turn in financial reports to Eckstrom’s office, and every agency except the Employment Security Commission did so. The Comptroller’s Office can’t create the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report until it has financial statements from all state agencies.

Also, it’s likely the federal government won’t look too favorably on the Employment Security Commission’s accounting difficulties when it comes time to review the agency’s books, a likely occurrence given that the Commission has received the second-most stimulus dollars of any S.C. state agency, $106.6 million.

The FY09-2010 budget allocates more than $102 million to the Employment Security Commission, though only $562,475 of that comes from the state’s General Fund. Last year the agency received more than $93 million, including $803,724 from the General Fund.

The roundtable discussion was called earlier this month by Gov. Mark Sanford, in part because of problems at the Employment Security Commission. The governor wants to make the agency part of his Cabinet and to have the power to appoint the director.

The state’s unemployment trust fund – the account that cuts the checks for jobless workers – is broke and South Carolina has been borrowing money since last October to pay benefits.

An official with the Commission acknowledged that mistakes have been made.

“We had some problems at the time this report was first being put together and the staff that was involved was not only trying to deal with this report, but there were a lot of other issues on the table as well,” said Clark Newsom, director of communications.

“However, the (outside) auditors will get this report later this week and the comptroller should have it in his hands by the end of this month,” he added.

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Written by Cotton Boll Conspiracy

October 20, 2009 at 4:51 pm

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