Tallahassee, FL - Two dozen long-term unemployed rode a broken down bus from South and Central Florida to the State Capitol. They want Florida to change the way it calculates their benefits. Willamina Walker says she has been forced to beg for money at a bus stop just so she can get to her college classes.
Willamina Walker, an unemployed college student, says,"It's just very embarrassing and I'm trying to make it out there. I'm not laying around; I'm trying and I shouldn't have to go through things like that".
Benefits are calculated in what you earned in he first four of the last five quarters. experts say that disadvantages those who are seasonally employed. Badili Jones, an unemployment counselor, says it would mean benefits for 64,000 Floridians. Jones adds, "We found that more people who don't qualify in the standard base period would qualify in the alternative base period".
The group went to the Governors Office to ask Charlie Crist to do by executive order what lawmakers have so far refused to do. They got a surprise visit and tour, but no assurances what they wanted was even possible.
Crist says, "We're exploring with the Department of Labor, they were kind enough to grant us a waiver, previously to allow me by executive order to extend unemployment benefits. So we're looking into that today".
But as they left the Capitol, the odds of changing the complex unemployment were a long shot at best.
IN ADDITION: Governor Charlie Crist released this statement regarding the proposed extension of the Florida Back to Work Program:
“Earlier this month, I expressed to Florida’s Congressional Delegation and other key members of Congress my strong support for extending the deadline of the Florida Back to Work program. Funded by Recovery Act dollars through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund, this worthy initiative has already helped more than 1,000 employers put more than 5,300 Floridians back to work.
“The program is currently set to end on September 30, 2010, but with a Congressional extension, Florida would have more time to fully utilize the $200 million already authorized for the Back to Work program in our state. I urge Congress to vote in favor of the extension to support Florida’s employers, create thousands of additional jobs and help reinvigorate our economy.”