Rick Scott mocks Florida unemployment system bureaucracy in Heritage speech
Rick Scott. Image via AP.

The Senator told a story about overly generous benefits to the jobless back in 2011.

Rick Scott took a lot of heat during the pandemic for Florida’s faltering unemployment payout system that he left the current Governor, but he can joke about it now.

The Senator, addressing the Heritage Foundation’s Leadership Summit, made light of what he saw as overly generous payouts from the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) when he came into office in 2011.

“I go to the agency that does unemployment,” Scott said. “It’s right after I got elected, I said, ‘How does it work?'”

Scott seemed to paraphrase a response.

“They said, ‘Governor, we’re open six days a week because unemployed Floridians don’t have enough time to apply for unemployment during the weekend.'”

The Senator wasn’t finished, though.

“It gets better. They’re dead serious,” Scott related, saying he told them he “read this article that you could be in prison and continue to get your unemployment benefits until they run out.”

“I said, ‘You realize we run the prison system, we know who’s in prison. … If you found somebody that … got a job and kept their benefits, would you ask for the money back?'”

DEO confirmed they would not attempt clawback.

“I said, ‘If you go on unemployment, do you have to do anything?'”

People were expected to “apply for five jobs a week,” but Scott confirmed that DEO didn’t “enforce it.” He then asked what their “purpose” is, seemingly offering another paraphrase.

“They said, ‘Our purpose is to get everybody we can in Florida on unemployment because the state only pays 26 weeks. Thank God for Barack Obama. He gave us another 73 weeks for free because we don’t have to pay for that. And that’s 99 weeks.'”

“‘Eventually our economy will turn around if we can get everybody we count on unemployment,'” Scott continued. “That was the attitude.”

The story continued, with Scott saying the state was “going to enforce the law and we’re not going to allow people to commit fraud.”

“When I left, there were 22 million people in Florida,” Scott said, with “one million people on unemployment when I got started. And when I left, there was 61,000.”

While job creation was central to the Scott administration’s narrative, with nearly 1.7 million jobs created during his eight years, problems with the unemployment system grabbed the spotlight during the pandemic.

Gov. Ron DeSantis blamed the dysfunctional reemployment assistance system on failures during the Scott era, specifically regarding the CONNECT website.

“Before I was Governor, the state paid $77 million for this thing. … No question about it, totally not worth $77 million,” DeSantis said.

The Governor denoted “huge problems with this system that the state paid a lot of money for,” including “a lot of architectural problems” and “a capacity issue,” which saw it only able to process 1,500 payments a day.

DeSantis compared the system to a “jalopy in the Daytona 500 … a “clunker … designed with all these different things, basically to fail,” replete with “pointless roadblocks.”

Scott’s response was cavalier.

“Look, it’s a tough time to be Governor. Some people are leaders. Some people take responsibility. Some people solve problems and some people blame others,” Scott said in August 2020.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Tom

    April 20, 2023 at 4:32 pm

    This guy has 200 million + dollars so he doesn’t have to worry about unemployment. As if someone will quit just to get unemployment and make less money… although I will say less money for a little while is almost preferable to working with some of the low life azzholes in this state. Pretty much land of the untreated mental health epidemic.

  • Tjb

    April 20, 2023 at 6:09 pm

    Scott blaming the Connect Website is misleading. When he was governor he implemented many obstacles making it harder to received unemployment. I don’t agree with DeSantis on most issues, but DeSantis is spot on with this matter.

    • Trojan Trolley Pill Mill Bill

      April 20, 2023 at 7:04 pm

      Scott was an anti-government shill for the rich. Obstruct and sabotage government to benefit himself and people like him. Not very American.. and a real class warrior for the upper class. Played the stupid Tea Party sub-apes like a fiddle. “Evil Left! Send me money!”

  • Bwj

    April 21, 2023 at 12:05 pm

    Scott has no idea. Yes, there are people who abuse the system. Scott’s company understands. But, we have employers who won’t hire those with spotty work records, ex felons, and offer unlivable pay.
    How do you expect people to get off unemployment?

  • Rob Desantos

    April 21, 2023 at 2:58 pm

    This man looks and behaves like a cursed living skeleton.

Comments are closed.


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