Friday, January 21, 2011

Jobless loan adds more to lawmakers' budget challenges this session

Last week's legislative committee meetings included an update on the newest projection for the state's budget shortfall, which is now estimated at $3.6 billion. Another problem the business community will face this year is the unemployment compensation fund deficit. Currently, Florida has borrowed over $2 billion from the federal government to pay unemployment compensation benefits. Unfortunately, this loan must be repaid. Employers can expect to receive notices regarding a special assessment sometime in February, which will likely total between $10.00 and $13.00 per employee. It must be collected by June 30, 2011, paid to the federal government no later than September 2011 and is retroactive to January 1, 2011. If, however, Congress chooses to extend the interest-free period on the loan, this assessment will likely be cancelled.
In addition to this, there is another retroactive assessment looming. In November, Florida will have its federal unemployment tax credit reduced by .3%, making the effective FUTA rate 1.1%, instead of .8%. Federal law requires that if a state has outstanding advances owed to the federal government (and as noted above, Florida owes the feds over $2 billion), the FUTA tax credit is reduced by .3% per year, until the advance is paid off. This loss of the FUTA credit is expected to be implemented in November, also retroactive to January 1, 2011. FHCA will continue to work with the business community on these important issues and will keep you updated as more information becomes available.

In the meantime, we encourage FHCA members to make plans to attend our January 28th Legislative Meetings & Webcast. This is going to be one of the most challenging sessions for long term care providers, and we’ll need everyone’s active participation in our grassroots advocacy. This event will help you stay informed on the most important issues that affect providers legislatively and will ensure we are all speaking with a strong, united and consistent voice.

Along with important updates on reimbursement, Medicaid reform, regulatory relief and tort reform, there will be a legislator at each of the 14 locations. This is an excellent opportunity for FHCA members to meet them and express your views on potential legislation that impacts your facility operations and resident quality care. Lawmakers want to hear from you, their local constituents, about the issues that affect them so they can best represent you in Tallahassee. The nominal registration fee includes lunch and 3 CEUs, but please be sure to register by midnight on Tuesday, January 25th, to guarantee your luncheon spot. Click here to register online or here to download the registration brochure.

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