Business groups ask for unemployment help

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Faced with a major increase in unemployment-compensation taxes this year, business groups asked lawmakers Wednesday to approve a set of short-term fixes to stave off the hike, reports the News Service of Florida. “The business community is saying to you, ‘Please consider kicking the can down the road one more time,” Randy Miller, executive vice president of the Florida Retail Federation, told the House Business & Consumer Affairs Subcommittee during a workshop on the issue. The business groups’ proposal would hold down tax rates and spread out the number of years needed to replenish an unemployment trust fund. While the proposal would help businesses this year, state economist Amy Baker said it would lead to higher long-term costs. In part, that is because it would require the state to get advances from the federal government that eventually would have to be repaid with interest. As of Jan. 5, Florida owed $1.8 billion to the federal government because of earlier advances, according to information presented to the subcommittee. Baker described the situation as a “zero sum game.”

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