Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has put Jonathan Satter, the current Secretary of the Department of Management Services, in charge of the embattled unemployment system.
Current Executive Director Ken Lawson will keep his job handling other aspects of the Department of Economic Opportunity, but Satter has been tasked to “rattle the cage” and speed up the process to get money in the hands of unemployed Floridians.
The governor said 1,000 people are now fielding phone calls from people struggling to file for benefits. He expects to increase that to 2,000 “soon.” DeSantis could not say how many claims have been paid calling that “unacceptable.”
“I think what people want more than anything is to see the money turned around,” DeSantis said at his Wednesday briefing. “Under normal circumstances it takes about three weeks from the initial claim being filed until an unemployment check is sent out and it’s been my judgment that’s too long.”
NBC 6 has talked to frustrated Floridians for weeks about their struggles with the state’s system.
“You feel helpless because you cannot sign on,” said Earl Perque of Plantation who has worked on film productions.
He has been trying to apply for state benefits and for the additional $600 offered to the unemployed by the federal government. Florida maximum benefit is $275, one of the lowest in the country.
The governor has said the federal money has started going out to those who have been successful in applying. That money is coming to people as a physical check as opposed to a direct deposit.
But for people like Earl who is still struggling to have his application accepted, he can only hope.
“It makes me feel a lot better only if I can get into the system,” he said. “In order to do that I need to sign in on the computer. That seems to be the logjam.”