The Orlando Sentinel‘s editorial board criticized Florida Governor Ron DeSantis after he blamed the high number of unemployed people for the state’s failure to pay unemployment benefits.
DeSantis made the remarks in response to a reporter’s question about delays that have affected individuals who first applied for unemployment in March.
“I can tell you that DEO goes through this, and nine times out of 10 the application’s incomplete. And I think if you have complied in that time period, and your application’s complete, and you qualify, I think 99.99% of those folks have been paid,” DeSantis said at the time.
His statements prompted a rebuke from the Sentinel: “As if getting laid off isn’t scary enough, as if getting put through the unemployment wringer isn’t humiliating and frustrating enough, Gov. Ron DeSantis has decided to start blaming the jobless for the state’s failure to pay benefits,” the editorial board wrote.
“In other words, the governor thinks the vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of people who still haven’t received unemployment benefits to pay for rent and food have only themselves to blame. User error,” they continued. “Not a state unemployment system that was designed to fail and frustrate workers who find themselves out of a job through no fault of their own. A system that, in the year 2020, is asking people to fax information.”
The editorial board goes on to say that it empathizes with DeSantis and his frustration, noting that he “is taking a lot of heat for an albatross he inherited from former Gov. Rick Scott.”
“But we’ve reached a new level of tone-deafness when responsibility is shifted from the state to the citizens who desperately need benefits they’re entitled to,” they say, later concluding that DeSantis:
…probably is right that many of those who haven’t been paid were deemed ineligible to receive unemployment for one reason or another. What’s mystifying is how DeSantis, knowing better than anyone how lousy and glitchy the state’s system is, can be so confident those people truly are not eligible.
This was a bad moment for the governor. People are hurting. They’re scared. They’re broke. But DeSantis gets peevish, and sounds like he’s totally over answering questions about unemployment benefits.