Dear Fellow Floridian:
On Thursday, I had the honor of speaking at the Leadership Dinner on
U.S.-Israeli relations sponsored by Florida Atlantic University Hillel
and Owls for Israel. FAU Hillel and Owls for Israel are tremendous
aim to celebrate and promote the Jewish identity at FAU. It was truly
humbling to be among students with such a great passion for their
culture and religion.
According to the Jewish Federations of America, one quarter of
Holocaust survivors live below the poverty line. Florida has
approximately 12,500 Holocaust survivors. In 1988, more than 40 years
after the end of the Second World War, the German government allocated
$125 million for reparations, enabling Holocaust survivors to receive
monthly payments of $290 for the rest of their lives.
Unfortunately, in order to receive their money, the victims would be
wired their payments, which were subject to a $10 to $40 fee per
transaction. This fee, essentially a 10 percent tax, is a significant
financial burden considering that the vast majority of the victims are
elderly and rely on these payments. My office has partnered with 23 (and
this number continues to grow!) financial institutions in Florida to
waive the wire transfer fee on reparation payments. I’m grateful to say
that we were able to do this without any laws or legal wrangling; we
were instead simply able to appeal to the humanity of these financial
institutions, most of whom instantly recognized that waiving the fee for
Holocaust victims is the right thing to do.
While nothing we do can ever repay those who suffered through this atrocity,
anything we can do to keep money in their pockets is helpful and is in line with
respecting the dignity of these victims. To learn more about the fee waiver
program or to get involved with our efforts, visit
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida
DFS: Supporting Minority-Owned Businesses in Florida
CFO Atwater is dedicated to ensuring every program within the
Department of Financial Services (DFS) delivers value to the people of
Florida by continually improving the efficiency and cost-effectiveness
of its services. This includes encouraging small businesses such as
those owned by minorities, women and veterans to participate in
government by becoming vendors with the state.
Last year, the Department of Management Services’ Office of Supplier
Diversity recognized DFS as the Agency of the Year for supporting Florida’s
minority business community during fiscal year 2010-11. That means DFS has
conducted business with more minority-owned small businesses to provide goods
and services to Floridians. In spite of budget reductions, and without
increasing the total funds available for small- and minority-business spending,
DFS has worked with minority-, veteran- and women-owned businesses to the tune
of $11.6 million this past fiscal year (2011-12)—an increase of more than 26
percent over the previous year. DFS is on track to increase the available funds
for these businesses by another $1 million this current fiscal year.
Economic Issues Affect Small Business
While meeting with small business owners, CFO Atwater continued to
hear how access to capital was an increasing problem. In order to get to
the root of the problem, he partnered with the Florida Chamber
Foundation to conduct a survey of community banks and credit unions on
critical economic issues impacting Florida’s small businesses.
Specifically, the survey found that 96 percent of community banks and
credit unions expect to spend considerably more time and money on
compliance with new federal regulation over the next three years.
Furthermore, 64 percent of community banks and credit unions said their
lending to small businesses over the next three years will be negatively
affected by the Dodd-Frank Act. Seventy-two percent said that customer
service would also be negatively impacted.
To view the full results, visit
Florida Students $ave Essay
With almost half of graduating high school seniors saying they’re
unsure or unprepared to manage their own personal finances, and with the
average 23- to 28-year-old carrying more than $14,000 in debt, it’s
clear that there is a need to prepare our teens for the opportunities
and challenges that their futures hold.
Working with Florida Master Money Mentors, The James Madison
Institute and the Florida Council on Economic Education, we have
developed the Florida Students $ave
Essay Contest. The contest is part of the Your Money Matters education
initiative, which aims to equip Floridians with financial knowledge in
an easy and accessible way.
The goal of the contest is to motivate young people to develop
personal financial skills and better prepare them for college and the
workplace. The contest will award hundreds of dollars to Florida
students who present the best research and planning in response to
scenarios that reflect on short- and long-term financial goals.
The contest is open to all Florida high school students (public,
private, charter, virtual or homeschool) for the 2012-13 school year.
From now through Nov. 30, students can submit essays of up to 1,200
words for a chance to win a first-place prize of $250. Second- and
third-place winners will receive $150 and $50 respectively. Three
winners will be chosen from each of five regions across Florida:
Northwest Florida, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa and South Florida.
For more information about the essay contest, including a list of contest
rules, regions and how to submit an essay, visit
www.MyFloridaCFO.com/YMM or call the Division of Consumer Services helpline
at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (693-5236).
Tax Facts for Small Business Owners
Running a small business is a daunting proposition. Supporting
Florida’s small business community by connecting them with available
resources is critical to our state’s economic recovery. To help small
businesses minimize their potential tax burdens, the department is
partnering with the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants
(FICPA) to host one more free webinar titled “Tax Facts: A Guide for
Small Business Owners” on Oct. 23. The webinar follows on the heels of
the Small Business Leadership Forum recently held in Tampa, with the
focus on what can be done to improve the small business ecosystem in the
The webinar will provide an overview of key tax law provisions that affect
small businesses and outline opportunities for reducing taxes, lowering expenses
and making needed capital improvements. It will also cover potential impacts of
health insurance changes and the expiration of tax cuts. The webinar will be
- Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 5:30 p.m.
Read the attached flier for