Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is holding on to federal dollars tighter than a pimp from Chicago. He needs to run pre-COVID-19 unemployment claimants their money, too.
The State of Florida is one of the shittiest places to be unemployed during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to WESH 2 News in Orlando, Fla. And the podunk state has the worst processing time of new unemployment claims in the nation, as its Republican governor appears to worsen matters by ignoring a specific demographic in the ongoing unemployment claim debacle.
Florida residents with already open unemployment claims that may be about to expire or have already expired have not had benefits extended or received their share of the federal government’s supplemental $600 a week. The funding, granted on March 27, 2020, was part of the CARES act financial relief package signed by President Goofball Trump. Those residents are eligible for the allotment, also.
So what gives?
Under normal circumstances, unemployed Floridians receive up to a $275 weekly maximum benefit for 12 weeks, according to the State of Florida website. The state does not extend emergency benefits once a claimant has exhausted the funds. First of all, $275 per week ain’t shit, but this is Florida. Second, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published the unemployment rates for all states on April 17. In Florida, the unemployment rate was 2.8 percent in February, but with the onset of thousands of layoffs, that rate jumped to 4.3 percent in March. And with claims steadily increasing, the percentage rate is now over 5 percent.
I know you are asking, “Why does this matter?”
Glad you asked. According to Florida state law, once the unemployment surges over 5 percent “an additional week is added for every 0.5 percent increase to the unemployment rate...The maximum possible extension is 23 weeks.”
Claimants who filed for benefits due to the COVID-19 economic downturn receive 25 weeks worth of unemployment money, reported Saving To Invest. Additionally, the COVID-19 crew has already begun to see the $600 supplemental check.
Yaaas. But is Gov. DeSantis coming up off the dough the state owes the rest of the crew, or nah?
According to the latest Florida Reemployment Resource Guide (page 39) updated on April 23, the answer is no. And they won’t get their six bills weekly, either.
The governor basically said, “Fuck your bills.”
But that’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.
When asked about the oversight on April 21, Democratic Florida House Rep. Anna Eskamani for the 47th District replied via email:
“We are asking the state every day for the extension of benefits to Floridians who have already expired their claims, and mention that in one of our latest updates too: (Eskamani posted an extensive list of updated details that affected Floridians on Medium.)
Unfortunately, the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has given us no timeline of when those benefits will be expanded via the CARES Act, but we will keep pushing for an answer. We are also in support of a Special Legislative Session to extend available weeks to 26 weeks, which is the national average.
Happy to speak to this more if it’s helpful, but know that it’s a major concern of ours and we continue to push for the extension via the CARES Act.”
Eskamani also confirmed that new claimants would receive retroactive benefit pay once their claims were processed and approved. She detailed that she had no idea why previous claimants hadn’t been paid. Although the Iranian-American legislator didn’t know lawmakers who were against the extension, Eskamani stated that there were some of her peers who weren’t vocal about it, either. Was that partisan shade? I’m here for it.
Email inquiries were also sent to the newly-appointed Department of Economic Opportunity Sec. Jonathon Satter and Gov. DeSantis on April 22. Satter responded by asking for time to find out more information. He also copied Director of Communications for the DEO Tiffany Vause. A follow-up email was sent to Satter and Vause on April 24, but there still has been no response.
Emails sent to the address listed on Gov. DeSantis’ website bounced back.
Although it isn’t clear why the governor has failed to act on providing much-needed monetary assistance to his forgotten constituents, he doesn’t need permission to do so.
It’s even more confusing that the Florida governor wants to reopen amusement parks, restaurants with outdoor seating and other outside venues, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
“You’re much better off being outdoors than in an enclosed environment,” DeSantis said. “That’s just the reality.”
As recently as one week ago, DeSantis gave Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry the green light to reopen beaches and parks in the city. Dwights ran amuck flooding Jacksonville Beach, according to CBS News.
That’s the opposite of what the nation’s top health official suggested, according to AARP. Center for Disease Control Director Robert Redfield advised leaders that a second wave of the coronavirus could be “more difficult” than the current outbreak. He also reiterated that continued social distancing was crucial, as well as an increase in testing and contact tracing to prevent more massive outbreaks.
Even though Floridians are still contracting and dying from COVID-19 at an increasing rate, DeSantis’ incessant browbeating to reopen the state of Florida, like his cohort Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, and deny pre-COVID-19 unemployment claimants their unpaid benefits may have a sinister motive.
There is a clause in the CARES act that stipulates federal dollars can be transferred to state funds if it “qualifies as a necessary expenditure incurred due to the public health emergency and meets the other criteria of section 601(d) of the Social Security Act. Such funds would be subject to recoupment by the Treasury Inspector General if they have not been used in a manner consistent with section 601(d) of the Social Security Act.”
The hood translation: States can keep the dough and do whatever the hell they want if it’s a public health crisis. *Cue quotation fingers around public health crisis*
Without a statement from DeSantis or his camp, it wouldn’t be fair or ethical to accuse the governor of blatantly trying to endanger the working class and low-income folks of Florida to siphon federal funds from them.
But in the words of the great hood prophet DJ Quik, “If it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense.”