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State leaders encourage jobless Floridians to demand extension of the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit

Posted at 8:22 PM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-21 20:22:13-04

State lawmakers say without an extension of the weekly $600 CARES Act money, unemployed Floridians will suffer tremendously.

“The anxiety that I have over that is beyond belief,” said Eileen Sanders.

She is a professional performer for a major cruise line and says her industry is shut down with no word on when it’ll come back. She says with no recent business experience she can’t find a job.

“Nobody is clamoring to hire a 53-year-old singer to come and work,” she said.

Natalie Coon works in the fitness industry and says the extra $600 a week went to her rent and helping her mom who is recovering from Cancer.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: People push for an extension of the $600 CARES Act benefits

“I’m going to be in a desperate situation,” she said.

Both women are considered “gig” workers and will be left with $125 a week without that extra federal money.

And folks getting state benefits will be left with $275 or less a week.

The Heroes Act was passed by house lawmakers and planned to extend the weekly benefit until the end of the year but it’s facing challenges in the Senate. For two days, Senate Republicans have been back in session to discuss their plan when it comes to the Heroes Act.

It will likely replace the $600 check with a smaller amount so people aren’t receiving more money than they would if they were back to work.

“The rhetoric by those in charge of our state is that you’re lazy and you don’t want toward and the $600 is incentivizing you not to work and none of that is true!” District 47 State Representative Anna Eskamani said, during a virtual town hall Tuesday.

She along with other lawmakers spoke about the adverse impact not extending the benefits will have on folks without a job in Florida.

“Failure to extend UI benefits would widen our state’s racial wealth gap: Black and brown workers are more likely than white workers to face unemployment and have fewer savings,” they said in a press release.

Rep. Eskamani believes the state needs to extend the timeframe in which someone can get benefits at the state level. It’s currently at 12 weeks. They also say the weekly benefit amount should be increased — the cap is currently 275 a week.

“It’s up to the state of Florida to extend unemployment benefits, to increase the because $275 is nothing, you cannot survive off that,” Rep. Eskamani said.

It’s why they encourage people who need the money to reach out to the offices of the states US Senators, Rick Scott, and Marco Rubio, to fill them in on your situation.

“Call that line every day, don’t hesitate. It’s your life. it’s your family's life,” said District 15 State Senator Victor Torres.

The CARES Act is set to expire July 31, meaning this is the last full week someone would be eligible for the $600 check.