State moving to do the right thing on welfare fraud cases

The state of Michigan has an opportunity to do the right thing in connection to a mess it created when it accused — falsely as it turned out — tens of thousands of state residents of welfare fraud between October 2013 and September 2015, when it depended on a computer system to determine that people collected excessive benefits based on discrepancies in reported earnings, hours worked and other information.

Look for lawmakers in early January to take up establishment of a compensation fund to assist victims of the state system that drove some to seeking attorney representation and others into bankruptcy, damaged credit or job loss after being accused of fraud.

Thankfully, the state is already refunding penalties and interest in what will go down in history as one of the worst state-caused scandals of its type in Michigan history.

To his credit, Gov. Rick Snyder has thrown his considerable weight behind establishment of the fund. While legislators involved in the discussions said the compensation would total $30 million, Snyder’s office declined to confirm that amount. Victims advocates maintain the correct and appropriate amount will likely be higher.

To qualify, victims would have to agree not to sue the state, The Associated Press reported.

At this writing, it’s unclear what the final amount will be or when funds will become available. That said, it appears lawmakers in a bipartisan way are moving in the right direction. And in this day and age, that in and of itself is a significant accomplishment.