Audrey Gibson trolls Governor with ‘unemployment benefits watch’
Sen. Audrey Gibson in 2019. Photo via A.G. Gancarski.

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Democrats are laying the unemployment crisis at the Governor's feet.

As Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to struggle with the state’s balky unemployment website, Democrats continue to pillory him.

The latest provocation came late Tuesday afternoon from caucus leader Audrey Gibson.

The Senator from Jacksonville launched the “Florida Unemployment Benefits Watch” in what a media release called “an effort to boost transparency into an unemployment system fraught with delays and little accountability.”

Currently, nearly 570,000 Floridians are still waiting for payment, with almost two months having passed since the state of emergency was declared.

Questions about failures in the $77 million CONNECT website have dogged DeSantis both at press conferences in the Capitol and media events throughout the state.

The Governor said Monday, and reiterated Tuesday, that there would be an Inspector General probe of the spending and the lack of apparent safeguards in site development.

“The engineers I talked to said for that type of money, [the site] doesn’t fit the bill,” the Governor noted.

In media appearances throughout the state, the Governor has laid the blame on those who came before him. Particularly scapegoated was Ken Lawson, the appointed head of the Department of Economic Opportunity, whose stewardship of the unemployment system did not prepare it for what has hit since March.

Despite the Governor’s attempts to differentiate his administration’s work in the last two months to fix the site from previous administrations, Democrats in the Senate and beyond continue to push the narrative that the problem is the Governor’s to solve.

Sen. José Javier Rodríguez, a Miami Democrat, accused the Governor of “deflecting, trying to make it sound like he’s not responsible for the awful system we have post-2018 and especially in the last two months.”

Nikki Fried, Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, fired off a letter Monday, also to the Inspector General, demanding an investigation of “potential mismanagement” of the unemployment system.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at [email protected]


8 comments

  • Sara Westberg

    May 6, 2020 at 8:30 am

    Hi. I was laid off on 03/13/2020 due to COVID-19. I have now applied for Florida UI five times. There is correspondence waiting for me in my online account, but the system will not allow me to open the corr. I do not know what they need or what they are trying to tell me. I don’t care about FL UI. I want the PUA. I literally log on upwards of 30 times per day. It is my new job. But I am not being paid!

    DeSantis announced a presser about UI. In reality, he used that presser to complain about the system and his predecessors, not to provide ANY information to people desperate for income assistance. He is a total failure as governor. Sits next to Trump bragging on what a great job he has done.

    I will be homeless in June if I do not get help. Can you even imagine that? I am 64 years old and have worked since I was 15. Have never even THOUGHT about unemployment. Please. Please. Help me.

    • Kris

      May 7, 2020 at 2:13 am

      I’m sorry to hear about your troubles. What kind of computer/device are you using when you attempt to read your inbox message? If you’re using a smartphone or tablet, that could be your problem- I highly recommend using only a PC/laptop especially when attempting to read inbox messages.
      Also when you’re on the main page-“Claimant Home”- and look at the left hand column of choices that begins also with “Claimant Home” followed by “Inbox”, are one of your choices “Apply For PUA Benefits”? If so definitely click that.
      You can call 1-800-204-2418 and try to find something out from the automated help line- first press 5 for “help with a specific claim” and then go ahead and after entering your Claimant ID or SSN and PIN, try pressing all 6 options to see if any of those give you any insight.
      I just got my first Unemployment deposit yesterday and I have another one going in today, so you will get it eventually- don’t give up and good luck

  • John Tenorio

    May 6, 2020 at 8:48 am

    One and a half months ago I applied for unemployment. I was furlough, a very simple case for unemployment but until today I haven’t received any payment. It shows in pending status until the present. I still have my bills to pay (Home, car, insurances, etc) and I do not have money to pay for it anymore. What do I do? Thank you very much for listening, God Bless!

  • William Benedix

    May 6, 2020 at 8:53 am

    Can someone please clarify how the CARES Unemployment program works in Florida?

    Trump signed the law on March 27 and the spirit of the legislation was to provide Federal benefits of $600/ week through the end of July in addition to the Florida state benefit of 12 weeks with a maximum of $275/week. There was also a provision that extends the Florida state benefit an additional 13 weeks. Lastly, there is also something that increases unemployment weeks further based on the state unemployment rate, DeSantis has said that the federal benefit will be paid retroactively back to the beginning of April. I am unaware that anyone has collected before 4/20. Finally, I read in another article that the Federal benefit will coincide with the state benefit of 12 weeks and no more. Finally, if you take a temporary or part time job, you can defer your state benefits of 12 weeks over a 12 month period. Will federal dollars do the same? Will you lose your federal benefit permanently if out of desperation, you take a temporary job at Walmart or Amazon. People need to feed and shelter their families and right now Unemployment isn’t doing the job

  • DisplacedCTYankee

    May 6, 2020 at 9:22 am

    I think the word “troll” in the headline is entirely inappropriate. Look it up.

    Former Gov. Scott is to blame for the state’s unemployment system’s problems and current Gov. DeMAGA shares blame, for not getting it fixed.

    And what about Scott’s refusal to get Florida into the expanded Medicaid system? And DeMAGA’s refusal to correct that? People who are hurting right now could sure use some health-care assistance, too.

    I’m sorry for those out of work who are suffering. I tried to help — I didn’t vote for Scott, DeMAGA, or Trump. I’m 71 and have NEVER voted for a Republican.

  • tom

    May 6, 2020 at 10:24 am

    Floridians need to remember this in November when they go to the polls. Those of us who have opposed Scott from the beginning tried to warn Floridians that Scott is no friend to working people. He intentionally set up a UI system that does not work in order to discourage people from claiming unemployment benefits, under the theory that workers are lazy and won’t look for work if they’re receiving unemployment benefits. Scott and the rest of the GOP Klan loathe working people. Voting for the GOP is like a chicken that volunteers to work for KFC.

    • Kris

      May 7, 2020 at 3:45 am

      Anyone with a casual awareness of Florida politics has known full well that Rick Scott is not interested in the plight of the middle class and poor. This is the same guy who was fine losing millions in testing cost vs. saved benefits because he just enjoyed drug testing those on public assistance. As was mentioned, he rejected Medicaid expansion and did it just on principle because he’s against Obamacare-that is the actual reason he gave. And of course he was the only senator to take to the Senate floor to rail against the $600 in additional UC as being too sweet a deal-if any other senators felt that way, only Rick Scott had the nerve to scream it. He has been this way since he bilked Medicare in the 90s and has managed to still go 3-0 in state elections. And in 2024 he will probably win by 0.1% again. If Floridians were going to wake up and punish his evil ways, they would have already. He will always pump however many tens of millions of his money he needs to into the race to barely win, which it is ironic that HIS bald ass always wins by a hair

      • Marc

        May 8, 2020 at 6:09 pm

        It is pathetic.I finally got through to speak to a representative. She explained that between the hours of 7:30 am until closing the system can not be accessed by the state’s employees unless they are assigned to review and pay claims. If a call is made after 7:30 pm the office is closed.

Comments are closed.


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