TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Even though the president approved an extension of federal unemployment benefits, Florida’s unemployed workers may be upset to learn it could be weeks before receiving that money.
President Donald Trump signed an order Saturday creating a $400 weekly bonus to supplement state benefits in lieu of the $600 CARES Act payment that expired late July.
But there’s a catch: under the president’s plan, states are obligated to contribute $100 of every $400. Gov. Ron DeSantis revealed earlier this week that Florida doesn’t have the money.
DeSantis explained that states should use funds provided to states by the CARES Act to cover the cost but, in Florida, those funds have already been allocated to other pandemic relief efforts.
“Obviously, this is a tough budget time for us,” he said.
Florida had $4 billion in its unemployment trust fund at the onset of the pandemic. More than $2.8 billion has already been paid out since March, according to the Department of Economic Opportunity.
That leaves a little more than $1 billion left.
Numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor show more than 700,000 Floridians filed for or claimed unemployment as of last week. That would mean Florida would need to foot roughly $70 million a week for the federal benefit extension, in addition to paying out regular state benefits.
DeSantis said the state is looking into a loan from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Bart BonBrest is an out-of-work father of two from Tampa who lost his job in March when the group of salon schools he managed shut down. Like many others, he was thrilled to learn of the federal benefit extension, only to realize he likely won’t see that money for weeks.
“You feel like you’re just getting let down,” BonBrest told 8 On Your Side. “Led down this path of ‘oh, you’re going to get $400 dollars, oh wait, no you’re not.'”
Adding insult to injury for BonBrest is the fact he says his eligibility was inexplicably reversed recently. When he called the DEO to fix it, they said it could take up to seven or eight weeks.
“Can you go seven to eight weeks without any money coming in?” 8 On Your Side asked BonBrest.
“Not any longer,” he replied.
Numbers out Thursday show significantly fewer Floridians filed for unemployment last week compared to the week prior. In fact, the first-time filing numbers were the lowest Florida has seen since mid-March, possibly signaling the worst of the unemployment crisis is behind us.
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