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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — State Sen. Karen Tallian is calling for Indiana to stop demanding repayment of legitimate unemployment benefits that were paid out during the pandemic.

“A lot of this mess is a bureaucratic mess within [the Department of Workforce Development],” Tallian said.

In an op-ed she penned over the weekend, she wrote: “Placing this level of financial stress on Hoosier families is unnecessary, as the federal government also gave states the authority to WAIVE those re-payments.”

As a member of the Senate labor committee, Tallian has tracked the unemployment crisis from the beginning. She has asked the Department of Workforce Development to provide her with a series of numbers: how many people received overpayments, how many have asked for waivers, how many have appealed and how much money the state is asking to be returned. She got an answer this morning.

“’We don’t have that yet’ was updated as of an email [Tuesday] morning,” Tallian said.

On Monday, I-Team 8 asked Gov. Holcomb the same questions and got the same answer. I-Team 8 also promised the governor it would deliver more than 1,200 emails viewers have sent with department complaints and problems. The emails were delivered as promised.

Tallian says the state’s unemployment trust fund is well stocked with federal money. She sees no reason for the state to go after money from struggling families — money they no longer have.

“Indiana has put into the UI trust fund $900 million of federal money. Some of it came from [the CARES Act], some of came from [the American Rescue Plan]. We have the money to waive those payments,” Tallian said.

I-Team 8 has given emails to the commissioner of Workforce Development and now the governor’s office. The information is in the hands of people that affect change. Now it is up to them to take action.