April 30, 2009
Florida’s Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund is nearly depleted leaving the future of unemployment compensation in limbo. AIF would like to acknowledge the leadership of Sen. Rudy Garcia, House Majority Leader Adam Hasner and Rep. Dave Murzin. Due to their leadership, the state will now have the means to restore a healthy funding source for the unemployment benefits upon which so many out-of-work Floridians rely. Associated Industries of Florida worked closely with legislative leaders to arrive at a balanced solution that will ensure people continue to receive essential unemployment benefits without levying disproportionate taxes on Florida businesses – the economic driver of our state.
Overshadowing this victory for Florida’s unemployment compensation system was partisan bickering over federal economic stimulus money and the impact acceptance of “modernization” funds would have on the long-term viability of this system. By making statutory changes that would relax unemployment benefit qualifications, we set ourselves up to provide more benefits to more people at a time when we are gravely concerned about having enough funds to support benefits for those already receiving them. These federal dollars are a one-time infusion of cash and the strings attached to this money impose a permanent, long-term price tag of $70 to $225 million annually. As Rep. Hasner wisely pointed out, taking this money would ‘make a bad problem worse.’
We applaud the responsible approach the House has taken by voting down acceptance of money that would cost the state more in the long run. As SB 810 makes its way to the Governor’s desk, we urge him to sign this important legislation that will breathe life back into the exhausted Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund and put our state back on road to economic recovery.