ORLANDO, Fla. – Since frustrated Floridians are struggling to monitor unemployment benefits closely, doubts remain as to whether more funding will come after the current programs.
What you need to know
- Frustrated Floridians want more action against unemployment benefits
- There is a need to monitor the way Florida handles the unemployment system
- UNEMPLOYMENT FLORIDA: Your questions answered
- Contact your state legislators: Florida Government Guide
Florida Department of Economic Opportunities is currently lagging behind other states in its pace of paying state and federally supported unemployment benefits.
Since March 15, Florida has paid DEO $ 1.5 billion to the state and another $ 4.6 billion in federal unemployment benefits as part of a deal with the US Treasury.
The federal benefits of $ 600 a week are higher than the state’s weekly benefits of $ 275. Some have called the Florida program the “most stingy” in the country, with one of the lowest benefits and the shortest periods: 12 weeks.
Florida law offers extensive benefits, with caveats.
Florida law provides an additional week of benefits for every 0.5%, the state’s unemployment rate rises above 5%, with a maximum benefit of 23 weeks. However, the unemployment rate is expected to exceed 5% and the extended benefits would only come into effect in the third fiscal quarter of October 2020.
As part of the CARES Act, Congress approved four-month funding of $ 600 weekly unemployment benefits with an end date of the last week of July.
The U.S. House of Representatives has since passed the Heroes Act, which would partially extend weekly federal unemployment benefits from $ 600 to January 2021.
Legislation is now under consideration in the Senate and does not promise to be acted upon.
Meanwhile, a top economic advisor to President Donald Trump raised further doubts about the extension.
Larry Kudlow, director of the U.S. National Economic Council, told CNN that the government is instead monitoring a program to encourage people to rejoin staff.
“The $ 600 plus above the state unemployment benefits they will continue to receive is in fact a discouragement, we pay people not to work, it’s better than the salaries they would get,” Kudlow told CNN’s Jake Tapper . “That may have worked for the first few months, it will end in late July. I think that returning to unemployment, we, the government, the president, are looking at reform measures that would provide some sort of bonus for returning to work and will not be as great but provide an incentive to return to work. ”
Floridians demand action
With a huge number of cases of coronavirus and families getting further into financial and emotional debt due to the delay in state benefits, frustrated Floridians are arguing for more work.
“The Florida unemployment website has been an outright disaster and we are still seeing hundreds of thousands of Floridians still not receiving their unemployment benefits,” says Rep. Darren Soto from Kissimmee.
Soto supports recent calls for federal oversight of the Florida unemployment system administration.
Call it “ uniquely poor, ” New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and Oregon Sen. Ron Rounds sent a letter last week to the U.S. Department of Labor inspector general requesting a review of the agency’s oversight of the agency’s Florida DEO.
“It is unfortunate that it took senators from New York and Oregon to point out at committee meetings when it should be our senators fighting for it,” Soto said.
Much debt has been blamed on Florida Senator Rick Scott, who approved the governor in 2014 and oversaw funding for the rollout of the state’s current unemployment system. Critics say the system designed by Deloitte was created intentionally to postpone and avoid claims.
“This is a real problem that requires a proactive response,” said Tonya Olson.
Olson, a registered physical therapist, had to put her small business on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic.
She says she has now waited more than 90 days to get full benefits, after jumping for months on one DEO hurdle after the next.
She now uses Twitter to illustrate her issues in a thread she jokingly calls ‘Daily Diary of Disappointment.’
“I’ve never borrowed money and never broken easily, but I had no choice,” said Olson.
Olson says she had to move to a new apartment, where the rent was cheaper and housing subsidies were provided. She, like others, has also had to find ways to make ends meet, including borrowing from friends or family.
“The government has ordered us to stay at home and make us unemployed,” said Olson. “We all met, especially me as a medical professional, to save lives.”
Olson said she thinks the state is broken.
Unimpressed by the response from state leaders, including Governor Ron DeSantis, Olson said she would like the systems repaired and Floridians get what they owe.