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From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: FL House rejected proposed increase to unemployment benefits

Generic Unemployment Office Sign. via Bytemarks/Flickr
Generic Unemployment Office Sign. via Bytemarks/Flickr

Florida House Republicans this week rejected Democratic efforts to increase our notoriously low unemployment assistance.

Governor Ron DeSantis had already put a damper on the very idea that Florida might raise benefits, calling the current maximum of $275 a week for 12 weeks “fine,” and adding that classic chestnut “it is what it is,” which everyone knows is a polite way of saying “tough … cookies.”

With its dependency on hospitality and tourism, Central Florida has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic with widespread, temporary closures. These industries depend on cheap labor to function, and now they want it back — but they’re having a difficult time re-filling those low-paid, non-insured jobs.

House Republicans insinuate those positions are empty because unemployment benefits make it easier for people to “lounge” at home — instead of going back to work to increase profits they don’t share in.

But here’s a thought: If your business can’t succeed unless you pay workers a non-living wage, it’s a bad business. If raising unemployment benefits from rock bottom threatens your industry, your industry needs an overhaul. And if your employees depend on government aid to survive, you’re not a job creator — you’re a poverty exploiter.