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Schwarzenegger's legacy and what comes next


If you are an observer of California politics and work comp you must recognize that reforming the state's comp system has been Arnold Schwarzenegger's biggest accomplishment as governor.

Unions and trial attorneys consider his influence on comp a disaster. But employers saved about $15 billion a year under reforms he helped employers put in place in 2004. Since then he has vetoed attempts to overturn reform measures favored by employers and insurers.

Personally, when he was first elected and began talking about overhauling California's comp system I never thought the governor would get it done. He was new to the office and entrenched Democrats controlling the state legislature would never allow it, I bet back then.

I was wrong and and as columnist Dan Walters says in a commentary worth a read and available here, the governor is credited with “bulldozing the Legislature into a sweeping overhaul of workers' compensation.”

Many Californians and others, however, know nothing about Schwarzenegger's impact on comp, and it is quite possible that it won't be a part of his broader legacy.

A lengthy Wikipedia entry on Gov. Schwarzenegger mentions nothing about work comp, not even under a subentry on politics. So unless you are interested in the subject you are not likely to know he has had tremendous impact on California's system for treating and indemnifying injured workers.

But for those that do watch comp, the subject is already shaping up as an issue in the upcoming election for the next governor.

Walters points out that Jerry Brown is a contender for the governor's office and whether he or someone else elected to the office would “loosen up on workers' comp benefits” remains a question.