Gov. DeSantis comment on ‘incomplete’ unemployment applications upsets Tampa Bay residents

Florida Unemployment

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Frustrations are boiling over from those in Tampa Bay still waiting for unemployment relief after comments Friday afternoon by Gov. Ron DeSantis in an exchange with a reporter.

At a news conference in Jacksonville, the reporter told the governor he had heard from people who applied for unemployment assistance in mid-March and had not been paid.

“I can tell you (the Department of Economic Opportunity) goes through this, and 9 times out of 10 the application’s incomplete,” Gov. 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 people have been paid.”

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.

8 On Your Side spoke with two viewers still waiting for unemployment benefits who say they are upset the governor’s comments put blame on the applicants.

“When you don’t fill something out it gives you a red box, it wont let you go further,” Fay Helminski from Spring Hill said. “So I have know idea how he’s saying we left things out.”

Helminski told 8 On Your Side she never got an explanation from DEO about what might have been missing on her application. Helminski said she applied for unemployment on April 1, two days after losing her job selling ads for a newspaper.

“Have you received any help from the state or federal government to deal with being out of work?” 8 On Your Side asked Helminski. 

“Nothing, absolutely nothing and every time I see Gov. DeSantis, you know it’s just very frustrating because I feel like they’re just pushing it off,” she said.

Bonnie Martin works as a contractor for a Tampa law firm that handles mortage foreclosures. The governor’s freeze on foreclosures has just been extended until June 2.

“The law firm didn’t have any work to give me,” Martin said, “and basically closed during this time.”

Martin said she’s applied three times, but still hasn’t received the benefits the federal government made available through the CARES Act for independent contractors like herself.

“How he could possibly say believes 99.9 percent of those that have filed for unemployment have been paid and that those who haven’t its because of their own fault that really makes me angry,” Martin said.

Both Martin and Helminski said they want 8 On Your Side to share their names with the governor.

“I would love Governor DeSantis to sit down with five or six of us who have not been paid and have somebody from DEO that knows what they’re doing to look it up while we’re sitting there and help us,” Helminski said.

As of May 14, DEO officials said they had paid 741,997 claimants a total of more than $1.86 billion.


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