Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist is criticizing Gov. Ron DeSantis for cutting Florida’s weekly federal unemployment benefits, starting June 26.
DeSantis made the call to end the federal benefits on Monday, joining at least 22 other states that have called it quits on the program. The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program provides an extra $300 per week in benefits to the unemployed during the pandemic.
“This is heartless leadership by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who seems more interested in scoring partisan points than taking care of Floridians,” Crist said in a statement. “Cutting unemployment benefits, just as our state and nation are getting out of a historic crisis, is the height of irresponsibility and will slow our economic recovery.”
DeSantis credited Florida’s economic recovery for the cut, referencing the state’s nearly half a million job openings, he told reporters in Miami Monday.
The move follows the release of Florida’s April labor statistics, which shows the private sector hired 18,800 workers and that there are 460,000 online job postings. DEO Secretary Dane Eagle praised DeSantis for the relatively quick economic recovery in the Sunshine State.
But, the decision is raising concern among Democratic leaders, like Crist, who argue this move will hurt Floridians in need. Democrats also shared concern over the reliance solely on the state’s unemployment system, which provides a maximum of $275 per week, one of the smallest amounts in the nation.
“With this decision, Gov. DeSantis is doubling down on Florida’s disgraceful unemployment system that effectively punishes Floridians for falling on hard times, paying one of the lowest rates in the country, and tangling regular Floridians in pointless red tape,” Crist said. “Florida deserves better. Floridians deserve a Governor who cares for the people and listens to what they need — and that’s why I’m running for Governor.”
The Republican incumbent has faced a slew of criticism from the Congressman as the two gear up for the 2022 gubernatorial election. Crist previously slammed DeSantis for his response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking with Jim DeFede on “Facing South Florida” on WFOR-TV in Miami, Crist said he was disappointed in DeSantis’ job performance, particularly related to his response to the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine rollout, or, as Crist called it, the “non-rollout.”
Crist even called for a federal investigation into the alleged “pay for play” partnership with Publix — a scandal he highlighted in a campaign video.
Most recently, Crist challenged DeSantis on his recently signed legislation establishing stricter election provisions in Florida.
But, despite Crist’s continued criticisms, DeSantis continues to lead polls for the Governor’s race, having a double-digit lead over the most likely challengers to his reelection.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce released a Cherry Communications poll last week asking about head-to-head matchups between DeSantis and three potential Democratic nominees.
Crist posts the best showing against DeSantis. But the Republican incumbent still leads Crist 51% to 41%, including holding a 50% to 33% edge among independent voters.