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The Illinois Workers' Compensation Act could soon see reforms that would address the “shortcomings” of the 2011 amendments to the act, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said during his State of the State address.
While Gov. Rauner, a Republican, didn't issue concrete ideas for workers comp changes during his speech Wednesday, he said comp reforms are “much needed” in Illinois to fairly compensate injured workers and also ensure that public and private employers aren't “overburdened by an irrational system.”
“Our workers compensation, unemployment insurance and liability costs all rank among the worst in America,” Gov. Rauner said, adding that leaders in both political parties have pushed for reforms that would correct the “shortcomings of the workers compensation law that was passed in 2011.”
Gov. Rauner also said in his speech that the Sealy Mattress Co. factory in Illinois is relocating to Indiana in the spring.
He compared the move to that of the Modern Drop Forge Co., which began moving its operations from Illinois to Indiana nearly three years ago.
“In Illinois, (Modern Drop Forge) paid between $700,000 and $1.5 million a year in workers comp premiums,” he said. “In Indiana, the same premium is $250,000. Modern Forge is competing with manufacturers across the country that don't have Illinois' costs.”
In addition to potential changes to the state's workers comp system, Gov. Rauner said raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour within the next seven years will also make Illinois more competitive.
It's been three years since sweeping reforms to Illinois workers compensation laws reduced the costs for treating injured employees. But those in the construction industry say they have yet to see meaningful reductions in premium costs. In fact, some firms still are watching their workers compensation rates creep up — even as Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn touts a 19.3% drop in such costs statewide since 2011.