IL Legislators Pass Budget without Workers’ Comp Reforms

07.12.2017


By Liz Carey

Springfield, IL (WorkersCompensation.com) – The Illinois House of Representatives voted to override the Governor’s budget veto Thursday, but legislators say there is still work to be done to reform workers’ compensation. 

House Majority Leader Mike Madigan was able to bring together the 71 members needed to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto. Ten Republican representatives crossed party lines to work with the Democrats to pass the $36 billion budget.

Rauner had called the legislature back to a special session on June 20 to force lawmakers to pass a budget, the first in two years. For more IL coverage, visit WorkersCompensation.com.

Legislators passed a bill out of the Democrat-controlled House that included a $5 billion income tax increase to pay for more than $15 billion in unpaid bills. 

Rauner originally vetoed the bill on Monday, saying the bill didn’t reform government enough, including changes to workers’ compensation and a freeze on property tax, among other things.

The Illinois Senate overrode Rauner’s veto within an hour.

But the House failed to pass a vote until Thursday evening. The body did not meet on the Fourth of July, and failed to reach a quorum on Wednesday. As the House was readying to go into session on Thursday, the session was delayed when a woman threw an unidentified white powder into the Governor’s office, sending the Capital into lockdown for two hours.

Rauner called the override vote "another step in Illinois' never-ending tragic trail of tax hikes,” during a news conference after the vote.

“(Madigan’s budget) is not balanced, does not cut enough spending or pay down enough debt, and does not help grow jobs or restore confidence in government," Rauner said during the live televised event. "It proves how desperately we need real property tax relief and term limits."

Initially, Rauner had proposed tougher standards to prove causation in workers’ compensation claims and measures that would force arbitrators to use American Medical Association guidelines in determining how much seriously injured workers could be paid. That was later dropped in favor of reducing the fees doctors, hospitals and pharmacies can charge for treating patients. 

Madigan said that while those fees saved money, the only group that wasn’t seeing any reductions in fees was the insurance industry. He called for their fees to be reduced as well.

Madigan has said that legislators would continue to negotiate workers’ compensation reforms.

Susan Mendoza, the state’s comptroller, said it was still unclear whether or not the budget would solve the state’s fiscal problems. The state still faces one of the highest workers’ compensation insurance rates in the country, and has an underfunded pension system that threatens to downgrade the state’s credit rating.

“It will allow us to stop the hemorrhaging,” Mendoza told the New York Times about the budget. “The last two years have taken us almost entirely off the cliff. But we’re by no means out of the woods. Our office is still going to be very challenged to pay the bills.”

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