Rauner: Workers comp reforms no help for manufacturers

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner

(Illinois News Network)–Gov. Bruce Rauner said the workers compensation reforms currently being debated in the State Senate’s “Grand Bargain” won’t make a difference to manufacturers in the state.

After speaking to a room of manufacturing business leaders Tuesday, Rauner told reporters that workers compensation costs continue to be one of the largest factors in businesses leaving the state.

“These issues are pushing our employers to other states like Texas, Tennessee and Indiana,” Rauner said.

In addressing the Senate’s budget package, Rauner said the workers compensation portion wouldn’t even get Illinois to the middle of the pack in terms of lowering costs to businesses.

“If the workers comp reforms are small, they don’t move us down to average or maybe slightly below average in overall costs. That won’t move the needle, and I won’t be able to recruit many manufacturers to come here,” Rauner said. “Let’s change workers comp in a way that our costs are at least middle of the pack. We’re at least competitive with other states.”

Businesses, medium to large manufacturers in particular, can pay millions every year in workers compensation costs. Some industries require insurance rates four times the amount that a similar employer would pay in Indiana. Opponents of the reforms, including House Speaker Michael Madigan, say it would cause injured workers to pay for more injuries themselves and lower the overall quality of life for Illinois’ middle class. One sticking point has been the lack of a causation standard in Illinois. Attorney General Lisa Madigan has argued in favor of implementing this.

Rauner also told reporters that he would be happy to uphold his end of the agreement he had with lawmakers sending $215 million in state funds to Chicago Public Schools in return for a statewide pension reform bill that he said would save the state billions.

“We could do those two right now. Why wait?” Rauner asked. He vetoed the bill last year that would have sent the funds to CPS after there was no indication that any pension reform would be passed.

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