Gov. Rick Scott given 'Pink Slip' Protest over Unemployment Benefit Cuts
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside Gov. Rick Scott's office in the Capitol to protest proposed cuts in unemployment benefits and state-worker pensions. Most were clad in pink, chanting "Pink Slip Rick!"
Natalia Jaramillo, an organizer with Florida New Majority, a coalition of progressive groups which helped gather the protesters, said that while the anger of unemployed workers is largely directed at Scott, bills that hamper unemployed benefits in both chambers are the source of true anxiety.
"We know he (Governor Scott) has been putting pressure on cutting unemployment benefits," Jaramillo said, explaining the outrage toward Scott.
A House bill would cut six weeks off the maximum state unemployment benefits. A Senate plan does not cut weeks, but still includes a skills test for unemployed workers seeking benefits and makes it easier for employers to challenge claims. Legislators say the cuts to the unemployment compensation trust fund are needed to plug a $2 billion hole which was created by Florida's rapid spike in unemployment rate. Businesses, already paying nearly $75 per employee in unemployment compensation taxes -- triple last year's rate -- are also paying assessments to the federal government on the interest on the debt incurred.
Despite the talk of "pink slipping" the governor, Jaramillo said the protest was more about influencing the Legislature to take the Senate's approach to reducing unemployment benefits.
"Our expectation is that we really hope the Senate bill doesn't cut the weeks," she said.
Even though Gov. Scott shrugged off a recent poll that showed his unfavorable rating had sharply increased, Jaramillo thinks the protest and the polls will eventually start to affect him.
"I think he will start caring," Jaramillo said.