Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Archive

Did Panuccio keep his promise about CONNECT?

Jesse Panuccio sure did a bang-up job of keeping his job.

In March, the 33-year-old executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity needed to convince state senators to confirm him so he could keep the $144,000 job that Gov. Rick Scott appointed him to.

Unfortunately for Panuccio, his confirmation hearings came at the same time that one of the projects he oversaw, the online unemployement filing system CONNECT, was in disarray. Claimants couldn't get their money and they flooded the offices of senators with complaints.

Panuccio embarked on a furious lobbying campaign with senators, and promised that the problems with CONNECT had vanished.

"The bottom line is that we have resolved the delays caused by CONNECT's launch," Panuccio told senators on March 25. "Service is now better than it was prior to CONNECT."

Message received. Senators voted 37-0 to confirm him in April.

But wait. Now that we are at the one-year-anniversary of the CONNECT launch, now might be a good time to see if Panuccio is correct.

Is "service" better now than it was prior to CONNECT?

Read here to find out.