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Fla. House Approves Cutting Jobless Benefits

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(Source: CBS4)

(Source: CBS4)

TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) — The Florida House has passed a bill which will reduce the time an unemployed worker would receive state benefits from 26 weeks to 20 weeks.

The bill, (HB 7005), if unemployment were to drop below 5-percent, the maximum would be 12 weeks of unemployment benefits. The measure also makes it easier for the state to disqualify certain workers for the circumstances under which they lost their previous job.

“I commend the House for taking the lead on reforming the unemployment compensation system. The House’s legislation reduces taxes on Florida businesses and ensures that we have the necessary safety net for those who are out of work,” said Gov. Rick Scott in a statement. “By linking the number of weeks a person can receive benefits to the state’s unemployment levels, we are creating an environment for Florida’s job creators to get the state back to work.”

The bill, which had wide support in the Republican-controlled House, was aimed at lowering the amount of money employers pay into the unemployment fund, which is currently broke. The state has been borrowing from the federal government to pay benefits.

“The bill is designed to balance the needs of employers with the needs of the unemployed, and get the unemployment compensation trust fund on the road to solvency,” said its sponsor, Rep. Doug Holder, R-Sarasota.

Republicans brought the measure to the House floor on Wednesday, and knocked down several Democratic attempts to weaken it.

Before it becomes law, the bill must pass in the Senate; while that body’s measure seeks to change certain benefit eligibility rules, it doesn’t shorten the length of time during which benefits can be awarded. Neither bill affects additional federal jobless benefits that kick in after state compensation is exhausted.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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