Former state legislators express frustration over Florida’s broken unemployment system

ORLANDO, Fla. — Former state legislators now in Congress are expressing deep frustration over Florida’s broken unemployment system.

The system that the state spent $77 million to create continues to disappoint and lawmakers from the state level to Washington D.C. are hearing about it.

“There has been atrocious problems with the website, with applications. It was so bad they were having to do paper applications,” said Rep. Greg Steube.

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Channel 9’s political reporter Christopher Heath spoke with Steube in his D.C. office.

“We’ve got about a half a million Floridians who have applied for unemployment and they can’t access those state dollars or the federal dollars. What is extremely frustrating for me, having served in the Florida Legislature for eight years before coming to congress, we just appropriate the money. So you know it’s there, and then the state administers the program.”

As Steube notes, he was in the Florida Legislature when the CONNECT system was launched.

He said the persistent problems highlight structural issues and warrant an investigation.

“I sure hope Gov. Ron DeSantis is going to do some investigation for the $86 million taxpayer dollars for a website that wasn’t working,” Steube said.

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As for the governor, he has called for an audit of the CONNECT website.

DeSantis said almost all of the denials are a result of user error, not a problem with the system, saying he’d like the names of the people who have been denied.

“I’d like those names because we need to go off the actual facts, not just some anecdote, somebody who puts something out,” DeSantis said.