Moody’s: Florida Now Earns Highest Credit Rating

Originally Published in Florida Politics

Some good news for Florida’s credit ratings emerged Thursday, with upgrades across the board from Moody’s seemingly vindicating Gov. Rick Scott‘s approach to financial management.

Per a media release: Moody’s upgraded the state one notch from Aa1 to Aaa, with a stable outlook for the best rating possible, despite what is called an “aging population.”

“Florida’s general obligation debt upgrade to Aaa reflects a sustained trend of improvement in its economy and finances, low state debt and pension ratios, and reduced near-term liability risks via the state-run insurance companies. Florida’s economy is performing strongly in terms of job growth, and long-term growth prospects are favorable despite the challenges posed by an aging population base.”

Florida joins 14 other states with an Aaa rating. Scott has repeatedly asserted that under his watch, Florida shed $9 billion of debt ($5.5 billion in general debt, and $3.5 billion from the repayment of an unemployment compensation loan from 2009).

 

Click here to read the complete article in Florida Politics.

 

 

Notifiying Legislators Their Vote Will Be Counted: Unemployment Compensation

The Florida Chamber enters each Legislative Session by encouraging lawmakers to focus on making Florida’s business climate more competitive and lowering the cost of living for Florida’s families and small businesses. The Florida Chamber’s agenda for jobs, Where We Stand, serves as an important roadmap to educate lawmakers on the business community’s priorities.

Prior to each vote impacting the Florida Chamber’s agenda for jobs, lawmakers are notified that their vote would be counted. The tabulated results of each of those votes result in the Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card.

Unemployment Compensation

New Year, New Reemployment Tax Rates

Florida job creators will see additional savings this year, effective January 1, on their 2016 reemployment tax, also known as the state unemployment compensation tax. The minimum tax rate will go down from $16.80 per employee to $7 per employee, and the maximum rate remains the same at $378 per employee. Notices of reemployment rates will be distributed to each employer by the Florida Department of Revenue.

Take Action Now

For more information on the reemployment assistance tax and to receive a copy of the 2016 Reemployment Tax Rates Fact Sheet, please contact Carolyn Johnson at cjohnson@flchamber.com or 850-521-1235.

Exclusive Unemployment Comp Update From DEO Director Jesse Panuccio

Skim any newspaper these days and you’re likely to find a story about identity theft.  Some of the breaches are massive in scope: 83 million identities from JP Morgan, 80 million from Anthem Healthcare, 70 million from Target, and 24 million from the federal Office Personnel Management.  Why has this crime become so prevalent?  First, because it’s easy: in our digitized age, our personal information is everywhere, and it’s not very well protected.  Second, the crime is profitable: stolen identifies can be used to open credit card accounts, drain checking accounts, take out loans, purchase medical care, and steal tax refunds and public benefits like unemployment insurance.

Make no mistake about it: Data breaches and the resulting fraud have reached crisis levels. Organized criminal enterprises are, on a vast scale, using stolen identities to defraud public benefits systems.  The negative effects of this crisis are stark: It harms those whose identities are stolen, it robs the social safety net of limited resources, it imposes unwarranted costs on taxpayers, and it undermines public confidence in government.

The Department of Economic Opportunity, which administers unemployment insurance in Florida, takes these crimes very seriously, and we have made fighting fraud a top priority.  While technology makes public-benefits fraud easier, the good news is that it also provides new tools for fighting such fraud.  In early 2014, DEO developed and implemented a digital system that analyzes unemployment-claims data and detects patterns of fraud. The results are revealing. In just eighteen months, we’ve identified more than 110,000 fraudulent claims, representing $470 million in potential benefits. (In 2014, Florida paid a total of $840 million in unemployment benefits.)

The taxpayers of Florida, and across the nation, need to know that only those who legitimately deserve public benefits are receiving them.  DEO can’t do this alone, but we are dedicated to working with our partners in this state and across the country to safeguard all of the hardworking Floridians who bear the burden of public-benefits fraud.

Authored by Director Jesse Panuccio, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

Get Involved:

Contact Carolyn Johnson at cjohnson@flchamber.com to share your business story.