DeSantis to address Florida's broken unemployment system on Monday


  • Photo via Florida Governor's Office
Gov. Ron DeSantis said he will hold a news conference Monday to address the state’s much-criticized CONNECT unemployment compensation system.

“The system just totally broke. It's not a good system. We're going to deal with that,” DeSantis said Sunday during an appearance at Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach.

Since March 15, the state has received 1.78 million unemployment applications, of which more than 1 million are considered “unique,” as some people filed more than one claim. As of Saturday, 452,526, or 44.1 percent, of the unique applicants, had started to receive weekly state unemployment checks of up to $275.

The state Department of Economic Opportunity said more than $700 million has been paid out to applicants, of which $428.6 million, or 61 percent, is money from a federal stimulus program.

Complaints continue about the CONNECT online system going down as people fill out applications and about a large number of people being deemed ineligible for benefits. Overwhelmed by claims starting in mid-March, the Department of Economic Opportunity opened a backup online site for new claims and allowed people to fill out paper applications. The department also scrambled to bring in new computer servers and hired contractors and shifted state employees to handle the new data and answer phone calls from applicants.

Last month, DeSantis removed Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Ken Lawson from management of the CONNECT system, putting oversight in the hands of Department of Management Services Secretary Jonathan Satter. DeSantis, who has waived several requirements to ease the unemployment application process, said there will be an investigation of how the state paid $77 million to set up the CONNECT system, which went live in 2013.

Democrats, who have pushed to expand the state’s benefits, have called for audits that also would look into how recent proposed upgrades have not been implemented and how claims have been handled in the current crisis. State benefits last 12 weeks.

Please follow CDC guidelines and Orange County advisories to stay safe, and please support this free publication. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you news on how coronavirus is affecting Central Florida. Please consider making a one-time or monthly donation. Every little bit helps.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.