The U.S. Department of Labor divvied up $10 million worth of federal funding among 23 states to fight the problem of worker misclassification, but Florida didn’t get a penny.
That’s because the state didn’t apply for a grant — even though a yearlong McClatchy Newspapers investigation found misclassification in Florida’s construction industry costs taxpayers $400 million per year in lost state and federal tax revenue.
Misclassification happens when employers claim that their workers are independent contractors instead of full-time employees. The scheme allows companies to evade payroll and unemployment taxes and then undercut law-abiding competitors on bids.
After the Herald series came out, Florida signed an agreement with the federal government to crack down on misclassification.
The office of Gov. Rick Scott did not say why the state had failed to apply for funding. Instead, it directed a reporter late Friday afternoon to contact the Department of Revenue, which did not respond.
Florida did apply for and receive a different grant from the feds: $500,000 to help the state detect and prevent bogus unemployment insurance claims. The state could have applied for both anti-misclassification and anti-unemployment fraud funding. Twenty-two states received funding to combat both problems.