Dear Gov. DeSantis: Rick Scott might have created this unemployment disaster, but it’s your job to fix it

History can remember DeSantis as the man who did nothing or a savior who acted.

It is no secret that Florida’s unemployment claims system is a hot mess. That fact, and it is a fact, became painfully clear this week as claims skyrocketed beyond even the most historic levels ever before reported.

Gov. Ron DeSantis took a major hit for a system he didn’t develop.

The $77 million website that is now crumbling under the weight of out-of-work Floridians in the coronavirus economy, which is sending the nation into a tailspin, was developed under the administration of former Gov. Rick Scott who, as POLITICO speculated, might very well have sought to create a benefits system that didn’t benefit many Floridians.

“It’s a sh– sandwich, and it was designed that way by Scott,” said one DeSantis advisor, according to POLITICO “It wasn’t about saving money. It was about making it harder for people to get benefits or keep benefits so that the unemployment numbers were low to give the governor something to brag about.”

Do you hear that? Scott was allegedly less interested in helping the unemployed as they searched for new work than he was in painting a (potentially false) image of a booming economy.

If that’s the case, Scott deserves to be held accountable. But this is not the time for DeSantis to brush it off as ‘not his problem.’

Consider that the fundamental failures with the state’s unemployment system have existed for the duration of DeSantis’ more than one year as Governor. Not once before the pandemic created an employment crisis of epic proportions did the Governor attempt to fix it.

He only began taking steps, which were delayed even considering the timing of the crisis, after scores of jobless and desperate Floridians flocked to the figurative unemployment line.

It took him days to issue an executive order calling for an “all hands on deck” approach, allocating state workers from other departments to help manage the crisis. Days went by before he agreed to hop in the way back machine and allow job seekers to use paper applications for their unemployment claims.

Days may seem to be not that big of a deal in the pre-coronavirus era, but today those days are precious. Every day that goes by could be one more day a family goes without food. These are people who, even before outright losing a job, might have already experienced weeks of financial decline as the economy gradually ground to a halt.

On top of that, DeSantis is still resisting calls to increase the shameful amount of benefits Florida offers. At just $275 a week for only 12 weeks, Florida has one of the stingiest unemployment benefit options in the nation.

In a lean economy, one could make the conservative argument that the benefit is reasonable, one that more liberal minded constituents would balk at. But in these times, times when finding a new job might not be an option for some, it’s laughable that DeSantis has sat on the sidelines and given a thumbs up to the system by way of sheer complacency.

But there’s good news, Governor. It’s not too late to get it right. Now is the time to employ that Navy discipline to your office; flex that fancy Harvard education and identify meaningful and, yes, creative solutions.

Through broad executive power, power that is strengthened further through the state of emergency you declared, you can order better benefits for longer periods of time to help make families whole again; to help them weather this storm.

You absolutely can direct state funds to fix the ravaged website causing, not the unemployment crisis itself, but the gross inability for people to seek the need they help and deserve.

Remember Governor, that this influx in joblessness is not a result of laziness. These are not people who slacked off and got fired. They weren’t trying to bamboozle taxpayers into paying their way. They’re not welfare queens.

They’re furloughed bartenders and waiters. They’re hard working moms and dads whose jobs, and in many cases second and third jobs, were taken away by a virus we still don’t understand and can’t seem to control.

Pick up your pen and do the right thing.

If you do it now, history might forget your delay in issuing a stay-at-home order and remember your compassion for those who lost their jobs.

But if you delay, all of the good you have done for the environment, for teachers, for clean water, could be erased with one failure to act.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


  • Linda Dixon

    April 5, 2020 at 7:43 pm

    When did the Gov. call the folks applying for help due to this very crisis, lazy, slacking welfare queens? Exaggerating much? Sensationalizing perhaps? Are you a dramatic queen? I’ve witnessed the welfare lines lined up outside my office window, week after week/month after month, with mothers wearing expensive gold, donning fancy, expensive hairdos, while watching their children shoeless and without coats in the winter time. Jewelry and hairdos that I could not afford as a full-time worker and while supporting my children and placing their warmth and health priorities ahead of jewelry/hairdos or any other frivolous, unnecessary items. I observed this for yrs. Mothers who’d sit and smoke and could afford cigarettes but not shoes for their children.

    • Andy

      April 5, 2020 at 8:01 pm

      Most of the people who are laid off now are looking to keep a roof over their heads.
      Unemployment and welfare are not the same thing.
      Big business pushed for unemployment for the simple fact that when a lot of people are out of work , there needs to be a source of money people can tap into so it goes back into the economy. Which is why employers pay into the system.
      Linda be rest assured 99percent of these folks rather be working.
      I’ll prey for you, I think you have deeper issues !

    • Richard Fecker

      April 6, 2020 at 11:56 am

      Another bible waving Republican, that watches Faux News. We are in a pandemic lady do you have a drop of humanity running in your veins!?!

      • Anne

        April 14, 2020 at 6:18 pm

        I agree totally with this and have known about this system not working for a few years now. Scott knew. He ordered it. It was about keeping those numbers low on a national level. He is one of the most egotistical, self serving men, our state has ever had in office. Im still proud of Gov DeSantis of how he’s had to take over this “SHT SANDWICH”. I have felt from the very beginning, this Governor has truly had our best interests at heart. Scott NEVER DID. It was always the SCOTT SHOW. He still fights for media attention at any chance he gets. We should give it to him and call for an investigation into why hw let this happen to the good people of Florida.

  • David Herrilko

    April 5, 2020 at 7:52 pm

    By asking us to handwrite our applications and mail them in is stepping back to the 1980’s It will not allow our greatest resource, computers and related people to process. We then will have to reapply every 14 days for benefits. It is a poor excuse and not acceptable. Speak up everyone
    refuse to handwrite your application and mail it in. Let your rep know you are unhappy
    get some media behind if

  • Frankie M.

    April 5, 2020 at 11:36 pm

    But if you delay, all of the good you have done for the environment, for teachers…

    What good has he done for teachers? Charter school operators maybe…but teachers? A week ago he was ready to send them back to schools after he read something about Singapore. God help Florida because Desantis & Scott sure as hell don’t care about us.

  • A Voting Citizen of Florida

    April 6, 2020 at 12:57 am

    He needs to pass some criminal justice reform bills as well to decrease incarcerated population and save taxpayers money and millions and millions of dollars per year so money can be recouped and put back into the state of Florida and work toward rehabilitation instead of excessive egregious punishments just because…he could have already had a decent process going had he demanded CJR bills be heard…instead he is only worried about lining his own pockets with funds from warehousing prisoners…the state uses prisons for cash flow and personal gain…we all know it…2 out of every 5 lawmaker is a millionaire….hmmmm…makes sense while the rest of us struggle and the ones behind the walls do too whether they are truly guilty or not….as a prosecutor he knows how it all works and already biased…Florida is in dire need of Criminal Justice Reform and New Sentencing Laws….bottom line….this will fix alot of problems and revenue will become abundant…the Governer needs to man up and stop blaming others for his shortcomings…blames Sec Inch for DOC…YOU ARE OUR GOVERNOR….FIX THE PROBLEMS as opposed to passing them off down to the next guy who will take your place in 2022.

  • Ashley Negron

    April 6, 2020 at 1:01 am

    The technical aspects of today’s age are not accessible in all our homes. There are still a lot of us who need to go to the library, for instance, to print, email, or the like. Gov. Ron DeSantis should be taking the initiative to follow up on this handwritten unemployment application by mass mailing copies to every resident’s address including a return envelope to cover the mailing cost.

  • Nick Whitehead

    April 6, 2020 at 8:42 am

    Does anyone know where I can buy a guillotine? Some heads need to roll and the first one to hit the ground needs to be that empty round noggin of Senator Prick Snott. He alone has harmed more Floridians than all the the captives being held in Florida’s prisons combined. He doesn’t think you deserve health care and if you aren’t already rich he doesn’t think you deserve help getting through this crisis. This is the same asshole who returned AIDS prevention money to the Federal government unused. Never vote for a Republican again!

  • Drock

    April 6, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    Pending. Applications that were submitted 1 to 2 weeks ago are still pending. I am not sure how soon anybody who filed, is going to see actual money.

  • FdOverAgain

    April 6, 2020 at 1:51 pm

    Clean water. Hell the county I live in has fluoride, arsenic and lithium along with cadimium and a host of other radio active chemicals. SARASOTA COUNTY……………… Hes playing the blame game like Trump is blaming everything on Pres. Obama. DeSantis hold secret meetings violating the sunshine law in Israel and when he was sued he was unable to be served. This is not what I signed up for. Change of political party for me. Wonder why Trump didnt win Florida??????????????

  • Jimmy

    April 6, 2020 at 8:29 pm

    Many other states have approved to backdate unemployment claims to the last day of employment. Its only fair to the thousands of Floridians who can not get through to apply or reset pins. At $275, Florida has one of the lowest payouts in the country, while being one of the largest in the country in many different economic and population categories. It is a shame that they even hesitate or have to think about backdating our UI claims, while families are starving and going deeper in debt. Many people do not have savings or credit cards to buy food. We need help now.

  • An Ex-Republican

    April 8, 2020 at 10:19 am

    Governor, in 2022 we , the people , will remember. You can count on that !

  • Andrew

    April 11, 2020 at 9:42 am

    Rick Scott is a horrible representative of Florida and he should resign for his atrocious unemployment site, tactics and initiatives. He needs to stop with his hate messaging and blame game and start working for all Floridians.

  • Dan

    April 14, 2020 at 6:39 pm

    Gee, I remember back in the ‘Great Recession’ the Conservatives were blaming US (workers) for the recession. I remember reading comments that said I was the reason the company folded up and went out of business; that if I wasn’t such a shitty worker the company would still be in business. They also claimed that we were laying out of work and sitting on our fat asses just so we could collect benefits. I also remember that the conservatives, up on the hill (Mitch the Bitch), fought Obama tooth and nail over the unemployment extension that we needed.

    What I don’t understand is why the poor and working people vote for the party of the rich. The rich who obviously don’t give a crap about the rest of us…

Comments are closed.


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