Floridians have long known about the failures of the state unemployment system, while Tallahassee clearly has done nothing to resolve the issues. Workers rightfully got more worried about the system when the coronavirus pandemic shut down many businesses along with our tourism. Even now, Governor Ron DeSantis is seemingly dragging his feet on the unemployment issue, which threatens families and workers all over the state. But the people of Florida, and more importantly the workers most in need right now, have a champion fighting for them yet again – State Senator Linda Stewart.
“The Governor needs a gut check,” Sen. Stewart said in response to Gov. DeSantis’ press conference on unemployment last week. “While we heard all about the problems faced by the state and why unemployment checks have been held up, the people were left without the hard answers they need, and wondering if they are a priority or just a statistic and how much longer they’ll be left hanging.”
Sen. Stewart is the definition of a public servant. Her actions on behalf of constituents have not changed during the coronavirus crisis. She is so accessible as an elected official, making herself available over official channels and social media. Her office has been receiving messages desperate for help due to the lack of payments by the state. She is setting up meetings with state officials, sending names of those impacted and concerned, and demanding action.
Hundreds of thousands of unemployed Florida workers have yet to be paid. Many are being rejected and don’t understand why. Even some of the nearly 67,000 Disney employees who were furloughed, but auto-enrolled in the state system, have reported not hearing back from the state for next steps about payments. Central Florida is struggling even more due to the reliance on tourism and hospitality, as well as the fact that Orlando continues to rank as the city with lowest average wages.
“This is not relief for the unemployed,” Sen. Stewart continued. “Floridians who have lost their jobs thanks to the coronavirus know they’ve earned these unemployment benefits. They know that there’s a growing pot of money, sitting in a bank in Tallahassee, earning millions of dollars in interest for the state while their applications are being rejected as ineligible. And they know that the only thing that stands between them and making a rent payment, a mortgage payment, or paying for their family’s groceries is the governor and his inept administration.”
Sen. Stewart has promised to continue fighting, while working to find additional solutions for Floridians who continue struggling because of unemployment. But right now, she is focused on getting action, and unemployment checks, for Florida’s workers.
“I have constituents who have been waiting for 8 or 9 weeks, growing more and more desperate or disillusioned,” Sen. Stewart said. “We need to see urgent action from the governor, not more diagnosis of a problem we all know exists.”