Inflation woes may not move legislative leaders to hike Florida’s low jobless benefits

Imprint of the U.S. Capitol building on a dollar bill banknote
Florida's maximum jobless benefit of $275 per week is the second-lowest in the nation and hasn't changed in 23 years.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican lawmakers on the campaign trail repeatedly pointed to sky-high inflation as a scourge pinching Floridians’ pocketbooks, arguing it’s spurred mainly by indulgent spending by President Joe Biden and fellow Democrats in Congress.

But the new leaders of the Legislature aren’t ready to increase Florida’s jobless benefits, even though the last time lawmakers raised the maximum weekly unemployment payment, Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca” was the top song on the charts.

Since 1999, when the Legislature raised it from $250 per week to $275, so many other states — including Republican-controlled states — have increased their benefits that Florida is the second-stingiest state in the U.S. Only Mississippi is lower, at $235 per week. Florida also has the lowest maximum weeks of benefits available, at 12 weeks.

Inflation has spiked this year, reaching to nearly 9% in some months, the highest rate in at least 40 years. The economy has seen even higher increases for some needs such as select food items and gas, which has pinched pocketbooks, especially for low-income households. The maximum of $275 per week in 1999 would be the equivalent of nearly $492 today.

House Speaker Paul Renner, a Palm Coast Republican, said he could look at the issue but wants to be careful not to raise benefits too high, lest unemployed Floridians coast on them as he believes they did during the summer of 2020, when the federal government padded unemployment payments as joblessness spiked during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A federal payment of $600 per week was added onto weekly state-paid benefits for little over a year after a COVID-19 stimulus package was approved by Republicans and Democrats in Congress in 2020.

“People can be rational and say, ‘if I’m making more money getting benefits than working then maybe I’ll take a long vacation,’” Renner told reporters last week. “We can always look at it, right? Because we are in these inflationary times. But I think we need to be careful to make sure we don’t create the clearly unintended consequences that took place as a result.”

In 2021, the Arizona Legislature, which is controlled by Republicans, approved an increase from $240 to $320, which took effect this year. Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed the bill. Louisiana, which has a Republican Legislature and a Democratic Governor, raised its maximum weekly benefit earlier this year by $28, to $275, matching Florida.

New Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, a Naples Republican, said the issue isn’t on her radar screen.

“It hasn’t come up yet,” Passidomo told reporters last week. “I’m new to the job. I’m sure that and many other things will come up that we’ll take a look at.”

Gray Rohrer


4 comments

  • Joe Corsin

    November 28, 2022 at 6:22 pm

    “If you lost your job then that must mean you ain’t worth a fk. Better get one quick because our police need people to put in prison.” – Rick Scott

    • Joe Corsin

      November 28, 2022 at 6:34 pm

      Why does my peepee get hard when I watch gorillas at the zoo. Something about their big strong arms and handsome faces really does it for me. I get so turned on I have to go to the bathroom and rub one out real quick. I know it’s wrong but I just can’t help myself. It feels so good😋

  • Republicans are corrupt

    November 29, 2022 at 7:09 am

    During COVID., desantis has hundreds of millions of dollars. From the joe Biden that was to e paid out to Floridians. Desantis didn’t pay that money out to Floridians who desperately needed it. He kept it and used it for own agenda. Further more bit Rick Scott. And desantis have. Done noting to update the antiquated unemployment as well as other systems to benefits Floridians. This created much strife for Floridians

    This is another example of miss management, and the Fascism of desantis and other GOP politicians. They don’t care skit constituents only a bout power

  • Virginia

    December 1, 2022 at 3:20 pm

    “House Speaker Paul Renner, a Palm Coast Republican, said he could look at the issue but wants to be careful not to raise benefits too high.”

    That is an arrogant, out-of-touch statement about a benefit currently set at $275 per week, which won’t cover even a fraction of housing, utilities, food, or medical care.

Comments are closed.


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