House GOP leaders consider rejecting part of unemployment stimulus
Unemployed Floridians will start getting an additional $25 per week under the federal stimulus program, Gov. Charlie Crist announced today. “These additional funds will help job-seeking Floridians bridge the gap between jobs and provide much-needed financial help for their essential needs.” (full release in jump)
The House says it supports Crist's actions. But GOP leaders are seriously considering rejecting another aspect of the unemployment stimulus, arguing it will require a change in law to broaden the base of who is eligible for compensation.
The fear is that could increase costs to business once the federal funds are gone.
TALLAHASSEE – Governor Charlie Crist today announced the processing of additional payments to Floridians currently receiving unemployment benefits. The payments, which are in the form of checks or Electronic Fund Transfers, are the result of an agreement Governor Crist signed on February 20, 2009, with the U.S. Department of Labor as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The agreement authorized the state to issue additional federal stimulus payments of $25 per week to people receiving unemployment compensation. The federally funded benefits are expected to provide $345 million to Floridians through July 3, 2010.
“These are difficult economic times for Floridians who rely on unemployment benefits to pay their bills and feed their families,” said Governor Crist. “These additional funds will help job seeking Floridians bridge the gap between jobs and provide much needed financial help for their essential needs.”
The Agency for Workforce Innovation has begun mailing payments and electronically depositing funds for qualified unemployment compensation recipients. Subsequent payments will be issued bi-weekly in payments separate from regular unemployment compensation benefits. People qualified to receive unemployment compensation for weeks beginning February 22, 2009, or later will also receive a retroactive payment for those prior weeks. The federally funded increase will continue through July 3, 2010, for claims filed no later than December 26, 2009.
"Governor Crist’s efforts to fast-track this federal stimulus funding is critically important to nearly half a million Floridians in need,” said Agency for Workforce Innovation Interim Director Cynthia Lorenzo. “The additional $345 million will provide a financial boost to people receiving unemployment compensation payments and also benefit our overall economy as those dollars are spent in our communities.”
In addition to the increase in weekly payments, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 extends the window to qualify for federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits through December 26, 2009. These benefits can be paid through June 5, 2010. This extension is expected to provide more than $1 billion in additional federal funds to the people of Florida.
State unemployment compensation claims currently carry a maximum of 26 payable weeks; however, the federal extended benefits provide an additional maximum of 33 weeks for a total of 59 weeks for qualified Floridians. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act also exempts $2,400 of unemployment compensation from federal income tax beginning with the 2009 tax year.
For more information about Florida ’s use of the federal recovery dollars made available through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, please visit www.FlaRecovery.com.