March 30, 2010
TALLAHASSEE – Unemployment figures released by the state on Friday hit 12.2 percent – a 40-year high – causing Florida‟s business community to call for the passage of the Senate “Jobs” Bill (SB 1752). Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) supports the comprehensive legislation, which expands and creates tax credit programs, implements new incentive programs and encourages hiring practices that will take individuals off the unemployment rolls. Additionally, the bill helps address the needs of the space industry in Florida.
“The most critical issue affecting Florida right now is our unemployment rate and the need to create new jobs. We must find ways to put Floridians to work and keep them in their jobs,” said Barney Bishop III, President and CEO of AIF. “Before the 2010 Session began, AIF was honored to be a part of the Jobs Summit led by Sen. Mike Haridopolos and Rep. Dean Cannon, and to work with them to provide recommendations from the business community for sparking job growth. We are pleased they listened to us and many of these recommendations are part of the current jobs bill. Their vision, combined with the leadership of Senate Select Committee on Florida‟s Economy Chairman Sen. Don Gaetz and his Vice-Chairman Sen. Jeremy Ring, have produced a complete package of actions the Legislature can take that will have an immediate and profound impact on job creation.”
Keeping space workers employed and maintaining Florida‟s position as a leader in space innovation has been a top priority for AIF for more than three years. SB 1752 will aid the Space Coast and all other counties with aerospace industries by allocating $3.9 million for Space Florida's operating budget, $10 million for space infrastructure, $3 million for business development and another $3.2 million for job retraining purposes. This much-needed funding will help Space Florida and its partners overcome the budgetary shortfall at Kennedy Space Center and will go a long way to address the dramatic job loss facing the Space Coast as a result of the phase-out of the space shuttle program.
The Senate‟s “Jobs” Bill proposes the creation of the Unemployment Tax Incentive program, a new incentive that encourages companies to hire unemployed individuals eligible for unemployment compensation. SB 1752 also re-enacts the Qualified Target Industry (QTI) incentive and makes various tweaks to the program while increasing the cap for this incentive from $35 million to $100 million. Another AIF priority advanced by Sen. Haridopolos revamps and expands the existing Entertainment Incentive Program in an effort to attract more digital media companies capable of generating long-term jobs in Florida.
Additional highlights of the bill include:
"We know how tight the budget is and we understand the difficult decisions legislators have to make as they work toward building a balanced budget with less revenue,” added Bishop. “Despite the financial challenges facing the state, it is with great foresight that leaders in the Senate like President-designate Haridopolos and Sens. Gaetz and Ring are advocating for investments in Florida‟s future through legislation like this „jobs‟ bill.”