- Associated Press - Thursday, March 12, 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California lawmakers have confirmed Gov. Jerry Brown’s pick to modernize and speed up unemployment claims.

The Senate on Thursday unanimously approved Patrick Henning Jr., 35-0, to lead the troubled Employment Development Department.

Sen. Jeff Stone, a Republican from Temecula, says Henning has done an outstanding job reducing problems at the department, including thousands of unanswered phone messages and a software upgrade that delayed payments to about 150,000 residents.

During a hearing last week, Henning said the agency has hired nearly 500 workers to process claims but still struggles with its computer system.

The department handles the largest unemployment insurance program in the nation, doling out $6.1 billion and processing 3.5 million claims in 2014.

Henning, a Democrat who served as Brown’s chief deputy appointments secretary, is paid $150,112 a year.

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