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STATE BUDGET: Treat employees and injured workers the same

Letter by John S. Moceri, Tacoma on May 9, 2011 at 12:37 pm | 3 Comments »
May 13, 2011 4:56 pm

Re: “Workers’ comp stalls Legislature” (TNT, 5-9).

Maybe the legislators and the governor should pass legislation that treats workers’ compensation pensions and state employee pensions the same.

Since, according to the article. “there is widespread agreement in Olympia that lawmakers must do something to curb the surging costs within a state-run system that doles out billions in benefits,” an option for state employees, like the proposed option for injured workers, would be “reaching lump-sum settlements with workers (employees) who receive benefits for a prolonged period.”

The article notes that “workers’ compensation in Washington is a state-provided insurance system that provides about $2 billion in benefits each year.” The state employee retirement system probably provides a similar or greater amount in benefits annually.

The workers’ compensation system is “largely funded by premiums paid by businesses.” The state retirement system is largely funded by taxes.

Gov. Chris Gregoire told reporters “that the state must either cut benefits or offer settlements” for the injured workers of our state. Why not have the same approach with state workers who are retiring or already retired?

According to the article, Gregoire further claimed “that the state either offer the option of settlements to those over the age of 55 or limit payments for those who are receiving Social Security benefits” when she referred to the injured workers’ benefits.

Why not do the same with all state employees and their benefits? If it is good for the injured worker it must be good for state employees and for the state budget.

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