Sunday, June 24, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Jobless benefits need extension

With both parties motivated to avoid another government shutdown, Congress appears close to a bipartisan budget deal. But any deal needs to include extending emergency federal unemployment benefits. The job market remains tough and long-term unemployment is still high. The added weeks of benefits are an essential lifeline for families and will keep more of them from falling through the government's safety net.

The nation's job market is slowly improving. Last month, the economy added 203,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 7 percent, the lowest in five years. But the average unemployed worker is still out of a job for 36 weeks — more than 20 weeks longer than prerecession levels — and longer than the standard 26 weeks of unemployment benefits most states offer. Florida is even less generous due to a shortsighted initiative pushed by Gov. Rick Scott in 2011. Florida benefits range from 12 to 23 weeks based on the state's unemployment rate. This year, Floridians qualify for up to 19 weeks of benefits, a short time frame that has been cushioned by the additional 27.2 weeks of emergency federal benefits.

If the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program is not renewed by Congress, 1.3 million people will be abruptly cut off in the week between Christmas and New Year's. Next year that number will grow to nearly 5 million people shut out of income support, including 260,400 in Florida. Such policy is disruptive to families — unemployment compensation allows families to stay in their homes and maintain stability while looking for work. Benefits also stabilize the economy. Estimates are that without the federal unemployment benefits flowing, an estimated 240,000 jobs will be lost, more than 10,000 of those in Florida.

Extending unemployment benefits does not encourage malingering and joblessness, despite what congressional Republicans claim. Society gains when workers are given the ability to look for a job commensurate with their skills and experience — which was the point of unemployment insurance. A laid-off mid level executive who isn't so financially desperate that he takes a job as a restaurant dishwasher can find a better-paying job. Then his family won't need public assistance. And he can return to the ranks of being a contributing taxpayer sooner.

Extending unemployment keeps Americans out of poverty. Though the benefits are modest, an average of about $300 per week nationally and $232 per week in Florida, they are enough to keep families afloat. Shut the program down and the need will simply shift to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, and other government safety net programs for the poor.

Florida's unemployment rate of 6.7 percent is still high. Unemployed workers outnumber available jobs in every industry. Ending federal benefits would harm the state and Florida families.

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Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Itís hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bayís two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

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Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. Thatís the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18