The COVID crisis caused an enormous economic crisis in 2020. More than 2 million Floridians lost their jobs and tried to get unemployment benefits through Florida’s unemployment insurance system. What they discovered was that our state’s unemployment system is broken.
First, the website was a mess. We discovered that it was designed to handle only 5,000 users at a time.
But that wasn’t all. Not only was the unemployment website was broken, but the benefits our state allocated revealed our priorities were broken as well. Florida’s unemployment insurance is one of the worst systems in the entire country:
✅ A maximum of $275 per week
✅ Benefits capped at 12 weeks
✅ The SLOWEST state to pay unemployment during the coronavirus crisis
With a broken website and the stingiest benefits in the country, it seems like the cruelty was the point.
Now that lawmakers are meeting again, the question is: will they remember the 2 million Floridians who experienced the failings of Florida’s unemployment system?
There are several bills lawmakers have introduced to #FixUnemploymentNow:
- Senate Bill 466, introduced by Senator Bracy
- Senator Taddeo’s Senate Bill 644
- Senator Powell’s Senate Bill 592 which is the companion bill to House Bill 207 introduced by Representative Eskamani and Representative Diamond.
Each of these bills addresses the core issues of Florida’s unemployment system in a different way. But they all recognize that fixing our unemployment system will take more than overhauling the website. We need to increase benefits. We need to increase eligibility. And we need to look at the funding mechanism for the program.
All of these bills are a vast improvement over the current mess. But there are hurdles to getting them through the legislature.
Next up: Committee Hearings
These bills have been introduced in the Florida House and the Senate. And that is a good start. But it is just a start. The President of the Senate has assigned several of the Senate bills to Senate Committees (and the same is true on the House side as well).
Next they need to pass through the committees they have been assigned to, and then pass a vote of the full chamber, make their way to the other chamber, etc. (See this simplified graphic below). Remember Schoolhouse Rock? It’s a good time to brush up on our civics!
Stay tuned as the unemployment reform bills go through committee hearings this week.
And if you want to get involved in the campaign to bring much needed fixes to our unemployment insurance program, take our survey now!