TAMPA - Florida pays one of the lowest levels of unemployment benefits in the nation and is the slowest state in processing claims.
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Unemployed Floridians who've spent weeks navigating the broken system are now taking to the street to protest.
A caravan of unemployment protesters drove up and down Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa on Friday, honking their horns with signs hanging from their cars.
Many of the protesters Friday say they've run out of money and are living on credit cards and charity from relatives. They've gone six weeks without any unemployment benefits and say they're getting desperate.
"I am losing my home, I am borrowing money from family to get groceries,” said Julia Shear of St. Petersburg. “I had to go and get $20 from my daughter to go get $13 of supplies to make this sign. It's ridiculous and it’s criminal."
It was the latest protest organized by Kelly Powell, the founder of the Facebook page Action Group for COVID-19 Unemployment.
Powell has protested in front of the Department of Economic Opportunity in Tallahassee and says she's not stopping until everyone gets paid.
"We are very much suffering, and if we had gotten our unemployment when we were supposed to we wouldn't be going through this," she said.
In Jacksonville on Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said they've made a lot of progress on the broken CONNECT website.
"You go back four weeks, the system was in tatters,” the governor said. “People couldn't even get on and there's going to be a whole investigation that's going to need to be done about how the state of Florida could've paid $77 million for this thing however many years ago they did."
That expensive website was built under Rick Scott, who was Florida's governor at the time.
Protesters say they mostly blame Scott for the unemployment issues.
"This is Rick Scott and instead of getting on FOX and all the other news places and telling us all that we just want to stay home because we can collect more money, get his rear end back to Florida and fix the unemployment system that he broke."
DeSantis says for all of last year, the state paid out 326,000 claims.
Since mid-March of this year, they've paid 426,000 claims. That's less than half of the unique application claims, which is currently at 960,000.
The man now in charge of fixing the broken unemployment system - Jonathan Satter - promised that unemployed Floridians who qualify for benefits will get all the money they're owed.
But Satter could not provide a timeline of when that's expected to happen.
Satter also said that typically only 40 percent of people who apply for unemployment are eligible.
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