TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Reporters continued to press Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday to explain the state’s much-criticized unemployment system.
At a press conference about transportation in Orlando, the governor was asked why so many people who fill out applications were deemed ineligible for benefits.
Reporter Greg Angel said he had provided the governor’s office with the names of 5,000 applicants who applied in mid-March and were rejected.
DeSantis tried to turn the tables on the reporter, saying it was his responsibility to vet those complaining.
“Did you vet any of them? Did you vet though?” DeSantis asked. “Did they submit a valid Social Security number?”
He also suggested the journalist was “not even investigating whether they’re valid claims…just asserting that they have applied.”
“I think it’s your responsibility, if you’re representing that there is someone in March that hasn’t been paid, to tell your viewers whether that someone is a valid applicant or not.” DeSantis said, adding that a number of invalid claims were from “other countries” and “other states.”
Feeling failed by the unemployment system? 8 On Your Side is putting together a list of names of people waiting for their benefits to send to Gov. DeSantis and the DEO.
If you have been waiting for 30 days or more on unemployment benefits, please fill out this Google form. 8 On Your Side’s Victoria Price will be delivering it to the governor.
DeSantis said 97% of eligible applicants have been paid with more than $2 billion in claims paid out.
DeSantis told reporters last week that most people frustrated by the system hadn’t filled the application out properly.
“DEO goes through this, and 9 times out of 10, the application’s incomplete,” DeSantis said. “And I think if you have applied in that time period, and your application’s complete, and you qualify, I think 99.99% of those folks have been paid.”
The $77.9 million CONNECT system was first launched in 2013 under now Sen. Rick Scott’s administration.
Earlier this month, DeSantis said he had asked his inspector general to investigate the contract with the company that built the website and how it was paid for.
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