Democrats teed off on Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ performance in a Tuesday press conference, an event the Governor intended to clarify progress on the unemployment crisis.
The Governor has been embattled on a number of fronts, including ongoing issues with the “reemployment assistance” system and the controversial decision to jettison the employee who ran the state’s COVID-19 dashboard website.
Sen. Janet Cruz wondered if the Governor was “trying to take us to Dreamland … talking about people filling out applications incorrectly as if that’s a serious issue … it’s not.”
“You’re talking about people who can’t put food on the table and they forget their last name? Do not sugarcoat this. This is not dreamland,” Cruz said.
Sen. Lori Berman questioned the Governor’s math in determining a 97% pay rate, noting 600,000 people who asked the state for money were “quote ineligible” and have gotten paid zero.
Berman noted that out of staters, who know nothing about Florida, were handling claims.
“They said there were 1.6 million claims … they’ve paid a million … that’s not 97%,” Berman said, guessing that 60% of claims have been paid.
Sen. Perry Thurston said constituents are “suffering” despite “months and months” of repetitive DeSantis pressers.
Thurston also quibbled with the 97% claim, saying it “defied logic” given the thousands of people “still waiting to be compensated.”
“These are individuals out there waiting for months and months and months,” Thurston said, “with a system that fails them.”
Thurston noted also that Florida is 48th in weekly payouts of 50 states, with “right around 43 states” paying out for longer than Florida’s 12 weeks.
The Governor has lamented in the past, and did so again Tuesday, that the CONNECT website was like a “jalopy in the Daytona 500.”
However, the Governor has been glib about Florida’s low payouts and short terms of eligibility, suggesting that for Democrats, there is a grievance to exploit in 2020 on the state’s joblessness crisis and the state’s failure to resolve it.