Florida Cracks Down on Unemployment Benefits

By: Troy Kinsey Email
By: Troy Kinsey Email

James Bunch is out of work. He'll be honest about the only thing keeping a roof over his head is his weekly unemployment check.
Now, even that could be about to disappear. A newly-filed bill would require anyone unemployed for more than 13 weeks to accept any job offer, as long as it pays at least what the state pays out in benefits.
Right now, that's 275 dollars a week for Mr. Bunch.

"There's a lot of people that's skilled and good at what they do. I don't mind being dirty, 'cause it's what I enjoy. But, I don't think I should have to work at Burger King to flip burgers, and I'm a builder." says James Bunch. Mister Bunch is a recipient of unemployment benefits.

To provide for the staggering number of people on the unemployment roll, Florida's had to borrow two billion dollars, and it may well need more.Hence the drive for new restrictions.

The lawmaker behind the bill - republican Senator Nancy Detert - is skeptical many of Florida's unemployed are actively looking for a job.
Republican Senate President Mike Haridopolos says he's inclined to give the bill a fair hearing.

"There's one out of eight Floridians who aren't working right now, and they want to work, and we're going to do everything in our power to help them out, and if we find some folks are gaming the system, then we need to look at it." says Mike Haridopolos, Republican Senate President.

But critics complain the system is designed to keep people afloat.
After 99 weeks of benefits, you're cut off. James says he has every right to use that time to find a well-paying and fulfilling job.

"Why they trying to keep a person from trying to move up just a little bit? You know, it's not a handout - it's something that you work for."

Something that could soon be a relic of a more lenient past.


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