The Florida Chamber of Commerce logo (Pic via dotflorida.org)

Yesterday, the Florida Chamber of Commerce reaffirmed that it plans to “fight” any increased taxes on businesses for unemployment insurance.

According to a statement released yesterday:

Burdened with double-digit unemployment rates for several years, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is leading the state’s business community in advocating for private-sector jobs while also working to reduce the impact of unemployment compensation taxes on employers and business owners.

During the 2012 Legislative Session, the Florida Chamber is prepared to fight to stabilize and ultimately lower the cost of unemployment compensation tax increases for Florida employers by:

  • Modifying the formula in current law that determines the unemployment compensation trust fund balance recoupment rate and reduces the taxable wage base,
  • Encouraging examination by the Department of Revenue and legislative committees of the array calculation and its potential impact of Florida’s unemployment compensation tax rate for businesses, and
  • Encouraging additional training and certification through the Florida Ready to Work Program.

According to the Chamber, one of the most politically powerful business interest groups in the state, “Florida’s unemployment compensation system was never built to sustain high levels of unemployment, and the unemployment comp taxes that our entrepreneurs face is threatening business expansion and job creation.”

Last session, the Chamber successfully lobbied for changes to the state’s unemployment benefit program. The result of its efforts: fewer benefit payments to the unemployed and a reduction of entrants into the program.

In Florida, the maximum number of weeks someone can receive state unemployment benefits went from 26 weeks to 23 — and if the state’s unemployment rate continues to fall, that could be shortened to as little as 12 weeks. Reports have shown that Florida already has the fifth lowest unemployment benefits in the country, as well as the eight lowest unemployment tax. Florida was also one of only three states that made significant cuts to unemployment benefits and eligibility over the past two years.

As I previously reported, Rich Templin, who works with the AFL-CIO, said that businesses in Florida have been allowed by legislators to not contribute what is “legally their fair share.” According to Templin, while the Chamber argues that last year’s legislation relieved businesses of a burden, it actually hurt small businesses. He said Florida’s unemployment program is an “unmitigated disaster” and was wary of the Chamber continuing to ask for changes.

“The state is no longer digging into the bone of unemployment benefits,” Templin says. “They are digging into the marrow.”

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