'Tribune' analysis: Workers' comp reforms could spark budget breakthrough
The Chicago Tribune editorial board recently said workers’ compensation in Illinois is the key issue that could bring compromise in a divided state government.
“Businesses large and small complain that their workers' comp costs are out of step with those of most states,” the article stated. “Illinois needs to tighten the standards for defining and proving a workplace injury, and thus help to control costs. The way the law is written now, an employee who slips and falls walking to her car on the way to work could qualify for workers' compensation from her employer, even though she wasn't even at work yet.”
The board said workers' compensation is something that politicians on both sides of the aisle agree needs reform.
“Workers' comp could be a starting point for compromise on the budget and other issues if House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) get on board," according to the editorial. "At least six bills stuck in committees they control would lower workers' comp insurance costs for companies. The legislation has been idling for almost two years.”
The board also sees such reform as a way to stop the exodus of companies and steady loss of jobs in the state that's been happening for years.
"Companies throughout Illinois share similar stories," according to the editorial. "They know they can move across state lines, or they choose not to expand their business. They don't hire new workers. Those decisions affect the state's fiscal health. Companies that leave Illinois are no longer taxpayers. Companies that stay but don't grow limit the potential for additional revenue. More people working would mean more tax revenue."