Florida has become the 23rd state controlled by Republicans to end its $300-per-week in additional unemployment benefits earlier than the programs are due to expire in the Fall, CNN reports.
"Thanks to Governor [Ron] DeSantis' leadership, Florida's economy has bounced back tremendously with over 460,000 jobs available throughout our state and the strongest economic conditions in the nation," Secretary of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Dane Eagle said in a statement, according to ClickOrlando. "Florida's employers are also seeing employment growth, as more Floridians, including some who completely left the workforce, are now eagerly reentering the workforce. Transitioning away from this benefit will help meet the demands of small and large businesses who are ready to hire and expand their workforce."
Florida joins Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming in dropping the additional benefits this summer.
"The real reason is simple — we got almost half a million job openings in the state of Florida," DeSantis said on Monday during a press conference. "We're proud of the fact that we've got a lot of economic momentum and so now we're transitioning from relief in the midst of a crisis to now having the more traditional reemployment outlook. This is something that's a stop-gap for people until they can get back on their feet and get back to work.
"We reinstituted the job search requirement and now discontinued the added federal money, and the reason is simple: we've got almost a half a million job openings in the state of Florida," he added.
DeSantis said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, "we tried to get money out the door, particularly the federal money that we were able to get, and that was appropriate. Now we're just in a much different situation."
Democrat lawmakers in the state slammed the announcement as "shocking," "wrong," and "shameful."
"This was kind of shocking if you want to know the truth when I saw what was being done," Sen. Linda Stewart, a Democrat who represents part of Orange county, told ClickOrlando.
"I think that it's wrong for them to slash this money at this time and I think the benefits are owed to the people," she added, saying that DeSantis "does not seem to have an idea of what the struggles are out there, the community and what they have been for over a year."
Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat from Orlando, said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times that "it's shameful that Florida's political leaders would choose ideological talking points and call workers lazy versus listen to the obstacles workers have faced in finding suitable work in our still recovering economy."
She told the Orlando Sentinel: "It's been made clear time and time again that Florida's governor does not care about our state's workers. Not only did he dismiss bipartisan efforts during the legislative session to increase Florida's criminally low weekly benefit amount by $100, but today his administration has decided to strip away critical federal support that hundreds of thousands of people rely on.''
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