As we look ahead to 2012, we are encouraged to see the state of
Florida continuing a steady trend of growth. In the capital, a business-friendly governor, Cabinet and Legislature are promising to maintain their focus on improving Florida’s economic climate. Republican majorities in Tallahassee will continue to give us a favorable political climate in 2012, but we will still face challenges in advancing the agenda of Florida retailers.
As we do every year, the FRF team will be actively advocating on behalf of the retail industry on dozens of issues – some favorable to our businesses and some not. When the Florida Legislature convenes on January 10, there are a few broad issues we think will be important in navigating the legislative landscape in 2012:
The Florida Legislature’s first order of business will be the once-a-decade process of redistricting – drawing new political boundaries for the state Legislature and Florida’s congressional districts. Regardless of how the Legislature draws the new boundaries, Democrats and Republicans will take the fight to the courts, who we believe will ultimately determine the new district lines. FRF will be monitoring this process closely to ensure we are prepared to communicate our agenda to the candidates running in the new districts.
THE "JOB CREATORS CAUCUS"
During the Legislative Session, our No. 1 challenge will be helping our lawmakers understand the perspective of Florida’s businesses. Surprisingly, there are precious few actual business owners in the Legislature – people who know what it’s like to make payroll every month and sign the checks on the front. This year, FRF is working to organize the Florida employers who are serving in the Legislature into a “Job Creators Caucus,” encouraging them to educate and advocate to their fellow lawmakers.
CONTROLLING COST INCREASES
While our economy continues to add jobs, Florida employers are facing a triple threat of cost increases in 2012. As required in the state constitution, starting January 1, 2012, the minimum wage in Florida will increase from $7.31 to $7.67 an hour - a nearly 5% increase. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has also approved an almost 9% increase in workers’ compensation premiums for 2012. Finally, there will be a nearly $100 per employee increase in the current minimum rate of unemployment compensation taxes unless the Legislature takes action.
The rebound of our economy over the past two years is strong testimony to the resilience of our state’s businesses, and the ability of the marketplace to create jobs. The massive tax and rate increases we are facing in 2012 can only limit that job creation. If our state’s leaders are collectively willing to take on and solve the big problems, we can be confident we’ll finish the year in better shape than we are beginning it.
On behalf of all of us here at the Florida Retail Federation, I’d like to thank you for being a part of Team Retail. We consider it a privilege to serve as The Voice of Florida Retailing, and we look forward to continuing our work for you.
Richard A. McAllister
FRF President and CEO