Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis publicly admitted that his state’s unemployment system seems to be designed to discourage residents from trying to use it. He said the system is built to pay out as little as possible in benefits, an effect that is being felt sharply by many Floridians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think the goal was for whoever designed, it was, ‘Let’s put as many kind of pointless roadblocks along the way, so people just say, oh, the hell with it, I’m not going to do that,’” DeSantis, a Republican, said in an interview with CBS4 in Miami.

The current unemployment system Florida uses was put in place during by the administration of the previous governor, Rick Scott, a Republican. DeSantis said that while he is unsure if the roadblocks were intentional on his predecessor’s part, the faults in the system’s design seem deliberate.

“I’m not sure if it was his [Scott’s], but I think definitely in terms of how it was internally constructed, you know,” DeSantis said. “It was definitely done in a way to lead to the least number of claims being paid out.”

DeSantis’s administration is set to award a $130 million contract to the same firm that designed the state’s current unemployment system, despite his admission that its system is faulty. The contract is for a website that will handle Medicaid data.

According to interviewer Jim DeFede, an audit was conducted in 2019 which pointed out the flaws in the state’s unemployment system. When asked if his government should be held responsible for not fixing the system, DeSantis claimed that he was not shown the audit results directly at the time.  Since he's seen them, he believes that its findings would not address its systemic issues.

“Floridians are still not getting paid so it begs the question if the governor believes the website was built not to work … then why hasn’t he fixed it?” State Representative Anna Eskamani, a Democrat,  said in response to the governor’s comments.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has come under fire for his handling of the public health response to COVID-19 Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has come under fire for his handling of the public health response to COVID-19 Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / JOE RAEDLE