Unemployed Americans in Florida filed a lawsuit against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday seeking to reinstate a pandemic relief program that paid an additional $ 300 per week in unemployment benefits.
in a complain filed Sunday night on behalf of 10 unemployed Floridians, three attorneys – Gautier Kitchen, Marie Mattox and Scott Behren – argued that DeSantis, as well as the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and its director Dane Eagle, violated their “clear legal obligation and statutory to secure such employee benefits “by prematurely ending benefits.
The attorneys are requesting an emergency court order to force Florida to reinstate the $ 300 weekly benefit until the case is decided, as well as provide four weeks of retroactive benefits.
“Florida’s unemployed need these benefits to pay for basic living expenses such as rent, utilities, food and medicine,” the lawsuit says.
Florida is one of 26 states, nearly all led by Republican governors, that decided to prematurely end one of three federal unemployment programs that provided unemployed Americans an additional $ 300 a week in addition to their regular state benefits. . and extended eligibility for contract workers, as well as those who had exhausted their regular state benefits.
Unemployed residents in Indiana, Texas and Maryland also filed lawsuits against their respective states for early termination of the program. State judges in Indiana and Maryland ruled that states must continue to pay the money to their unemployed residents.
The programs, which Congress created in March 2020 and voted twice to extend, will not expire until September 6, 2021. About 4 million people will lose their unemployment assistance as a result of the new policies, according to an estimate by the Left-leaning Century Foundation.
Republican lawmakers have blamed additional unemployment assistance for anemic job growth in April and May, though economists have also cited a lack of childcare and COVID-19 fears from hiring shortages.
Unemployment benefits in the state currently top out at $ 275 per week. With the federal supplement, Americans receive a maximum of $ 605 in weekly unemployment benefits. (For the sake of comparison, that’s about $ 31,500 a year, or roughly $ 16 an hour.)
President Biden and Democrats have rejected the notion that Americans choose to stay home and collect additional unemployment benefits, part of the $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law passed in March, rather than return to the job.
Still, Biden has emphasized that unemployment benefits will end in September as planned, despite the push among some of his party members to make the extra money permanent.
“It’s going to expire in 90 days,” Biden said recently. “That makes sense.”
About 6.8 million fewer jobs remain than there were in February 2020, before the pandemic shut down wide swaths of the country’s economy. Florida’s unemployment rate of 5% represents about 523,500 unemployed Americans out of a workforce of about 9.8 million, according to the Department of Labor.