Florida to forfeit $444M in unemployment stimulus money
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04/28/09 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday | Listen to this entire show:

With just days before the legislative session ends, it is becoming likely the state of Florida will reject $444 million dollars in federal stimulus aid.

GOP lawmakers say they do not want to increase the burden on the state’s unemployment trust fund when its running out of money.

Gov. Charlie Crist has said he supports a law to draw the extra federal money, but a bill sponsored by Jacksonville Sen. Tony Hill that would do so appears to be all but dead in the Legislature.

This morning, Miami Beach Sen. Dan Gelber tried to push for an amendment that would bring the state $148 million of those federal dollars by changing the way that the state collects unemployment.

Gelber says that by modernizing unemployment compensation insurance, at least 27,0000 more Floridians would be able to collect unemployment. That’s because it would count an applicant's most current job history that's now ignored.

Democratic Sen. Larcenia Bullard said part of Gelber’s amendment didn’t make sense to her.

Gelber then explained the purpose behind his amendment.

But Miami area GOP State Senator Rudy Garcia blasted Gelber’s amendment.

Gelber’s amendment went down to defeat.

The state’s unemployment trust fund is expected to run out of money by August, which is why Senator Rudy Garcia’s bill would ask for a federal loan for the fund, and increase unemployment taxes on businesses.

Sen. Tony Hill’s bill that would attempt to do much of the same thing that Gelber’s amendment called for is still alive, but all indications are that the GOP-led Senate will not be bringing his bill up for consideration anytime within the next three days.

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