On Tuesday, February 2nd, a story in the Palm Beach Post laid out a startling revelation about the priorities of leaders in our state Senate. After more than 3 million Floridians have filed more than 6 million unemployment claims, Democratic state senators and state representatives have filed 6 different bills that attempt to address the many shortcomings of the Florida unemployment system.
The bills, filed by State Representatives Eskamani, Diamond, Senators Taddeo, Stewart, Bracy and Powell try to fix Florida’s unemployment system in totality: from the broken website to the limited number of weeks one can claim benefits, to the meager weekly $275 cap, which was set in 1998.
Republicans in the state legislature have not filed any bills to date which address Florida’s unemployment system.
The major revelation of the Palm Beach Post story is not that the system is broken or that Democrats are attempting to fix it, but that Sen. Danny Burgess, the Republican chair of the Select Committee on Pandemic Preparedness and Response thinks that the problems with the unemployment system can be narrowed down to the website.
“I don’t know the issue was amounts, it was access,” [Senator Burgess] said of what he believes were the public’s biggest complaints when the system buckled under the weight of millions of claims.
In response to these revelations, Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chair Steve Simeonidis issued the following statement:
“We owe it to hurting Floridians to fix the broken website, but reform can’t end there. The last time the legislature adjusted the maximum weekly benefit of $275 per week was in 1998. It’s past time to bring the unemployment insurance benefit into the 21st century. After Republican leadership mismanaged the pandemic causing millions to be out of work, the least they can do is help those impacted by an unemployment system out of the 1990s.”
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