Florida’s failed unemployment system faces new scrutiny

Florida Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson

JACKSONVILLE — The fact that Florida’s unemployment checks are among the lowest in the United States is well known. But more disturbing is that 1.2 million Floridians filing claims brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic cannot navigate the state’s online system to get paid.

Individuals spend hours, days, and weeks trying to finish the online application for unemployment without success. The process of filing was so frustrating that many applicants give up.

This system was implemented under former Governor Rick Scott well before the virus. It resulted in the state reporting unusually low unemployment numbers up until March of this year.

Democrats have demanded that Governor Ron DeSantis investigate the bidding process and contract of Deloitte, the company that built it. And Deloitte says the system was designed per the state requirements. DeSantis has the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigating; meanwhile, efforts crank out claims have not improved much and continues to frustrate people in need.

Florida Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson said the governor’s agency has to do better.

“We continue to see that people haven’t been paid,” Gibson says, adding that more has to be done to repair the failed system, which means transparency. “They have to find the tools to pay people.  People do not need any more excuses from the governor; they need to see the numbers.  They need transparency.”

Gibson was among the early challengers of the unemployment payout system that has collapsed under the weight of the Coronavirus pandemic.  Although DeSantis knew of the intentionally flawed system when he took office in 2019, but never tried to fix it until recently.  Now, what changes implemented by his agency are not working.

DeSantis has been under tremendous pressure recently for a variety of issues surrounding the Coronavirus.  A Florida Department of Health employee said she was fired because she would not alter COVID-19 data.

He stopped the Florida Surgeon General from updating reporters on COVID-19 safeguards and state statistics. Black lawmakers have yet to receive an accurate number of African-American deaths in Florida resulting from the virus.

DeSantis recently lashed out at reporters who questioned the state’s inability to process claims.  He said that many claims have errors and that reporters should do the vetting. Of course, that is not a reporter’s job.

Senator Gibson is providing here own transparency by keeping count of the number of paid claims made.

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