As a national expert on unemployment insurance, Michele Evermore of the National Employment Law Project constantly hears from reporters who suggest their particular state must have the worst unemployment system in the nation.
“I have to tell them, ‘If you’re not calling me from Florida, I can’t tell you that you’re the worst state,’ “ said Evermore on the latest episode of Political Party with Adam Smith.
Florida’s disastrously faulty online unemployment system has received less attention in recent months than during the height of last year’s pandemic-related job losses, but it remains a top issue facing the Florida legislature this year. Lawmakers will consider proposals to revamp or replace the notoriously bad $78 million online CONNECT system put in place by former Gov. Rick Scott in 2013, as well as proposals to improve Florida’s meager benefits.
“The DEO has actually done an amazing job with what they were given,” Pinellas County resident Kelly Johnson, a leading advocate for unemployed Floridians said of Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity. “The fact that the system is still actually running, and there are people that are getting claims shows you that they have done the best with what they have. Unfortunately it started bad.”
Johnson, a single mother and former restaurant manager who became an activist after learning firsthand how difficult Florida made accessing benefits, has emerged as a leading force and resource for unemployed Floridians needing information. She launched a Facebook group, Action Group for COVID 19 Unemployment. #stpetecatalyst #Tampabay #florida #adamsmith