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DeSantis Assembling Task Force On Reopening Economy, Shakes Up Oversight Of Unemployment Issues

profile of man at podium
John Raoux / AP Photo
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis delivers remarks during a press conference at a coronavirus mobile testing site Monday, March 23, 2020, in The Villages, Fla.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said he’s appointing a task force that will inform state officials on when and how to reopen Florida’s economy. The governor told reporters he wants to tap experts in business, education, elected office and “all kinds of things” for input.

“I’ll be seeking advice and ideas on pretty much everything under the sun: small biz, agriculture, restaurants, tourism, large events, conventions, recreation, international travel, K-12 as well as higher education,” DeSantis told media during Wednesday’s afternoon briefing. “There are a whole host of things we need to be thinking about.”

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DeSantis made no mention specifically of healthcare experts being eyed for the task force, but said he expects names to be published by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, the Governor is announcing somewhat of a leadership shakeup at the state Department of Economic Opportunity. He’s named state Department of Management Services secretary Jonathan Satter as the new leader of “everything COVID-19 related” at DEO. Existing DEO director Ken Lawson will handle everything else at the agency.

“For example, if there’s business opportunities as we get in there, with the recruiting, then obviously Ken (Lawson) can handle that – some of the hurricane relief and things that (DEO) does. But in terms of the unemployment, Jon Satter is at the helm there, and we want to see swift action.”

DeSantis on Wednesday couldn’t answer how many unemployment claims have been paid to Floridians to this point – saying he didn’t have those numbers in front of him.

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“I ask for the numbers every morning. And that’s one of the reasons we want Jon (Satter) in there (at DEO) – we need to know exactly how many claims are paid, not just on a daily basis, but really on an hourly basis.”

The moves comes amid controversy concerning the agency’s unemployment system, which has yielded reports of system crashes and long wait times for service reps on the phone.