Gov. Rick Scott Signs Unemployment Compensation Reform into Law
Gov. Rick Scott signed HB 7005 into law Monday, changing Florida’s unemployment compensation process and reducing the maximum amount of state benefits jobless citizens can receive.
Under the law, the maximum amount of weeks a recipient can receive unemployment benefits from the state will be reduced from 26 to 23, the lowest in the nation. The new law also allows the state to deny benefits to applicants who are dismissed from their job for “misconduct,” even if it occurs away from the workplace or after hours.
Recipients will also be required to undergo a skills test to help match them to a new job, as well as contact five potential employers each week or visit a career center once a week, and report the interactions on the Internet every two weeks.
In an effort to consolidate the claims process and save administrative costs, claimants must now file online. The change is expected to save $4.7 million annually, according to the Agency for Workforce Innovation.
“This new law will enhance the unemployment compensation program’s efficiency for claimants, businesses and the state,” said AWI director Cynthia Lorenzo.
Not all of the provisions of the new law will take effect immediately. The law becomes active Friday, but the only new change will be a requirement for claimants to receive payments via a debit card specifically for unemployment benefits or through a direct deposit.
The online filing, skills assessment and work search requirements will not be imposed until Aug. 1. The reduction in weeks for state benefits won’t take place until Jan. 1, 2012. Recipients will still be eligible for federal unemployment compensation.
Business groups and lawmakers cited the sharp increase in the state’s unemployment compensation tax rate when they pushed for the new law during the recent legislative session. The minimum rate tripled this year, rising to about $75 per employee, up from about $25 per employee in 2010.
Florida’s unemployment compensation trust fund -- paid for entirely by businesses -- held a healthy $2 billion before the recent deep recession sent the unemployment rate skyrocketing. The jump in claims depleted the fund, and the state had to borrow $2 billion from the federal government. This year, businesses began paying special assessments to help pay for the $61 billion interest payments the state owes the federal government.
The new law reduces the unemployment compensation tax rate, which was originally slated to rise further, beginning next year, saving employers about $33 per worker.
While businesses are pleased with the change, some elected officials are worried that the state’s traditional safety net for the unemployed is beginning to weaken.
“Certainly it’s going to affect every community in the state of Florida, because now unemployment is cut by three weeks. I hope it doesn’t severely impact us and we can create jobs so nobody will be out of work for 23 weeks, that’s the hope. But in the event that they are, certainly that’s not going to help those individuals that are out of work for more than 23 weeks” said Tallahassee Mayor John Marks.
But Marks also said that cities across the state will have to redouble their job-creation efforts, and help unemployed workers find a new job before the 23 weeks of benefits runs out.
“We’re going to have to live with it, and what we’re going to have to do really is to continue to create the jobs in the community where people won't be laid off for 23 weeks, that should be our objective and that should be our goal,” Marks said.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Lord Rick Scott Cuts Three Weeks of Unemployment Benefits
Yes! Kiss those three weeks of unemployment benefits goodbye, you worthless leachers! I win again! The amount of time a peasant can be on unemployment is now the lowest of any state in the nation! LOL! To celebrate, I think I'm going to wax my skull tonight. Suck on it, losers!
Posted by Governor Skeletor at 4:01 PM