DeSantis blames Rick Scott for ‘pointless roadblocks’ in Florida unemployment system

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Wednesday accused his GOP predecessor of revamping the state’s unemployment insurance system with “pointless roadblocks” that he said were designed to prevent people from claiming benefits.

In an interview with the CBS News Miami affiliate, DeSantis blamed former governor and current Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) for leaving behind a broken unemployment system that created massive backlogs earlier in the year as the coronavirus pandemic decimated the economy.

“I think the goal was for whoever designed it was let’s put as many kind of pointless roadblocks along the way so people just say, ‘Oh, the hell with it. I’m not going to do that,'” DeSantis said.

When asked if he believed Scott purposefully sought to block claims, DeSantis said he wasn’t sure but added, “I think definitely in terms of how it was internally constructed, it was definitely done in a way to lead to the least number of claims being paid out.”

Florida was among the dozens of states crushed by a record-breaking surge of unemployment insurance applications in late March and early April as the pandemic forced millions of Americans out of work. Floridians were forced to cram together in long lines for paper applications as the state scrambled to fix problems with its online filing system.

While many states struggled to process the surge of claims on systems that ran on antiquated technology, Florida’s system was revamped in 2013, making it among the newest in the country.

The system was not only riddled with glitches and errors, according to a 2019 audit, but also included pre-application surveys and other measures that experts say actively discouraged Floridians from seeking benefits they are owed.

“Ours wasn’t really old. I mean, ours was really five, six years ago, and it should have been done better for that price tag to produce better results,” DeSantis said.

“I think going forward, I want all our systems, including unemployment, to be user-friendly. And it was not user-friendly,” he added.

DeSantis rebuffed blame for the state of the unemployment system at the start of the pandemic, insisting that a 2019 state audit never made it to his desk and didn’t capture the full extent of the issue.

Scott, who was replaced by DeSantis in 2019 after his election to the Senate, waved off his successor’s rebuke.

“Some people, they take responsibility. Some people just blame others,” Scott said Wednesday at the Capitol.

Tags Coronavirus coronavirus recession Florida Rick Scott Ron DeSantis Unemployment benefits unemployment claims

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