Florida Governor Rick Scott has been a boon to the businesses of the state ever since he entered office. With his unprecedented plans to cut business taxes despite the state’s budget crisis and many businesses making record profits, Scott has worked hard to give the corporations every wish on their list.
Now, one more perk for businesses has been signed into law — the Florida plan to cut the amount of state unemployment benefits workers can receive after a layoff.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the maximum amount of unemployment benefits that a former employee can receive from the state is 23 week, three weeks shy of the former maximum and national standard of 26 weeks, or half a year. Should the unemployment rate for the state dip below 10.5 percent, the state will begin cutting off weeks, going as low as 12 week, or not even three months, if the rate is under 5 percent.
The state is also mandating a “skills” review before receiving benefits, registration with a career services center, and a minimum of five “prospective employer contacts” per week to continue receiving the aid.
The state already passed legislation making it more difficult to initially collect unemployment, allowing companies to go as far as to fire and refuse benefits to someone they believe is acting inappropriately in their personal lives, saying it could reflect poorly on the company that employs him or her. The new maximum benefits limit and additional sliding scale will make it even harder for those who do manage to receive benefits to find livable wage work before their time to search expires.
But what sort of compassion can you expect from a body of legislators who are forcing welfare recipients to pay for drug testing out of pocket before they can get benefits, or who respond to economic woes with “Pigs get fed, hogs get slaughtered?”
Dropping two weeks of state unemployment benefits is yet another cruel way to balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable, but at least with the way Republicans like Scott and his colleagues are treating the economy, the chance of the unemployment rate dropping low enough for the 12 week benefit reduction plan to ever actually kick in are pretty minimal.