TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Kansas Department of Labor Secretary Delia Garcia has resigned from her position Monday morning, according to a press release from Gov. Laura Kelly.
The secretary’s resignation comes as frustrations mount from the public over Kansas’ aged unemployment system, which has struggled to keep up with thousands of benefit claims during the coronavirus pandemic. Kelly’s release also reported KDOL attempted a “clawback” on $7 million in duplicate payments for Pandemic Unemployment Insurance and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation without the governor’s consent June 10. The attempt to take back the extra payments hit more than 4,500 Kansans with money withdrawn and overdrafts on some of their bank accounts.
Garcia has served as the secretary for KDOL since May 2019. Kelly announced she accepted Garcia’s resignation around 10 a.m., and that the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff Ryan Wright will serve as interim Secretary of Labor until Kelly nominates another candidate for the position. The governor also said she will bring in specialists to investigate improvements to the state’s unemployment insurance program.
Kelly blamed the administration of former Gov. Sam Brownback for problems as Garcia’s agency worked through unemployment in the pandemic.
“I am taking immediate action to ensure Kansans who are out of work, through no fault of their own, are getting the assistance they need,” Governor Kelly said. “I want to thank Secretary Garcia for her service to Kansas. While states around the country have struggled to manage unemployment claims during the worst public health crisis in a century, Secretary Garcia inherited an agency that had its funding, its technology, and its staff gutted by the previous administration.”
The Kansas Department of Labor is working to reimburse anyone hit with an overdrawn bank account from the clawback on PUA or FPUC, according to the governor.