Meek wades into unemployment comp debate, writes Crist
U.S. Congressman Kendrick Meek, the Dem who could find himself running against Gov. Charlie Crist for U.S. Senate, wades into today's unemployment compensation finger-pointing.
Here's his letter to Crist:
November 18, 2009
The Honorable Charlie Crist
Governor, State of Florida
400 S. Monroe Street
Tallahassee, Fl 32399-0001
Dear Governor Crist:
This is the second letter that I have written you concerning Florida’s non-compliance with the Unemployment Insurance (UI) modernization provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The consequences of Florida’s failure to comply are now fully known as today’s news reports indicate that unemployment compensation taxes paid by Florida businesses will skyrocket next year.
What is your position on this critical legislation? Are you for the stimulus or are you against it? Is the position of your administration to tax small businesses or not? If the answer is the latter, the Legislature must move under your direction to pass necessary legislative fixes to ensure that Florida receives the $444 million in stimulus funds our state is due to help fund unemployment insurance coverage.
In voting for the Economic Recovery Act, I hoped that Florida would be able to maximize every federal dollar our state is due through the passage of this Act. That, however, has not occurred. By helping pass this federal legislation, Florida would have received $444 million in funds to provide a needed cushion for the state’s Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund that is quickly depleting because of the demands placed on the system by Florida’s unemployed, which swelled to 11-plus percent in September.
To take advantage of these federal dollars flowing into our state, the Legislature was required to pass a legislative fix to state law to comply with federal guidelines and receive these funds. I wrote last asking that you play a leadership role with the Florida legislature to pass this critical legislative fix, and if necessary, call that body into a special session in May to ensure passage. Our neighbor Georgia, a state led by Republican Governor Sonny Perdue and a Republican-controlled legislature, passed the necessary legislation, yet Florida did not even allow this issue to move forward in the legislative process.
Your leadership is needed as the Chief Executive of our state to ensure that Florida’s legislature takes up and passes this critical issue, and I urge you to call a Special Session and to have this matter added to the call.
Florida’s unemployed families are disadvantaged because of this inaction in Tallahassee, and next year, Florida’s businesses will be unfairly taxed to pay for these delays. My vote to help pass the Economic Recovery Act was a vote for Florida’s future, and these investment dollars needed throughout the state are being held up in Tallahassee.
Faced with an incredibly challenging economic crisis, Florida cannot delay – we have dragged our feet for too long, and the consequences of this failure are now realized. Our families and businesses deserve better from their elected leaders in Tallahassee.
Enclosed is the letter I sent you on May 1, 2009 first addressing this issue.
KENDRICK B. MEEK
Member of Congress