Meet the lawmakers who helped Rick Scott gut Florida’s unemployment system | Editorial

Meet the lawmakers who helped Rick Scott gut Florida’s unemployment system | Editorial

Dean Cannon, speaker of the House (far right), convenes the opening of the House of Representatives, at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee on March 8, 2011.(Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel) Rick Scott instigated the movement a decade ago to deny unemployment to the unemployed, but he couldn’t have done it without help. Republican lawmakers were squarely behind the the newly elected governor’s agenda in 2011, passing a sweeping unemployment compensation law designed to punish workers who lost their jobs — “slackers and malingerers” as one state senator put it at the time. She perfectly summarized the contempt some felt for the unemployed, which led to the overwhelming passage of a law that reduced the number of weeks someone can collect unemployment to as few as 12, required workers to prove they had contacted five potential employers each week, expanded the types of fireable offenses that disqualified an employee for benefits, and cut benefits if an employee received severance pay. Workers also were forced to apply for benefits online, which was bad under the existing computer system and calamitous today under the one Scott’s administration replaced it with. As others have observed, it was a system designed to help business by failing workers, those “slackers and malingerers.” An honorable politician would accept at least some responsibility for the misery that hundreds of thousands of Floridians are experiencing now as they try to collect unemployment to pay rent and buy food during this pandemic. Not Rick Scott. Asked by the Tampa Bay Times about the state’s chronic computer problems through the years a spokeswoman blah-blahed about the marvels of Scott’s governance. But this isn’t just about the former governor’s culpability. He couldn’t have changed the unemployment system without a new law, which the state Senate eagerly approved in 2011 by a […]

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