Gov. Ron DeSantis had more sharp comments Friday about the state’s dysfunctional unemployment claims system.
He declared that the state’s CONNECT website, a $77 million spend earlier this decade, a “clunker.”
“The system was problematic,” DeSantis said, noting procurement was “five, six years ago,” in the midst of Rick Scott‘s time as Governor.
“It was designed with all these different things, basically to fail, I think,” DeSantis said to reporters in Tallahassee.
“This thing was a clunker, there’s no doubt about it,” he added.
“What’s been going on since this thing crashed is that people have been in there around the clock,” the Governor said, making technical improvements.
More “changes to the system” are needed, DeSantis noted.
The comments came after revelations that the website would be down until Monday morning, with backlogged applications being processed in the interim.
On the bright side, DeSantis noted that DEO has “made 200,000 payments totaling almost $100 million.”
DeSantis vowed a briefing with the Department of Management Services (DMS) Secretary Jonathan Satter, brought in to turnaround the problem after Ken Lawson, Executive Director of the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), failed to deliver results, to detail the changes made.
But Democrats are incensed at the systemic failures.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried called on Attorney General Ashley Moody to look into matters.
“Unacceptable,” Fried wrote Friday. “I’m concerned that the site is down for 3 days and only 6.5% of claims have been paid. It’s time to investigate.”
Meanwhile, jobless claims continue to pile up.
More than half a million Floridians filed for unemployment last week, bringing total claims to 1.16 million since coronavirus precautions wrecked the economy last month.
While DeSantis can, as he did Friday, suggest that the issues are the creation of the Scott administration, fixing the problem is his team’s charge.
So far, the main takeaway is there are a lot of people waiting for checks and running out of hope.