Haynes is an Assembly member representing Riverside and
He serves on the Appropriations and Budget Committees. [go to
Assembly Member Haynes
website at California Assembly][go to Haynes index]
Your Job Goodbye
are racing out of the state...
friend of yours who happens to own their own business, no matter
big or small, what has happened to their worker’s
compensation premiums in the last three years. Every one that
I have spoken to has told me that their rates have at least doubled,
most have seen 300 or 400 per cent increases. This problem has
been around for at least two years, when then Governor Davis
increased worker’s compensation benefits in March 2002.
Soon thereafter, insurance rates began to skyrocket.
who do not know, worker’s compensation insurance
pays for workers who are injured “on the job.” The
problem in California is that we have the highest insurance premiums
in the country. You would think that these high premiums would
lead to lavish benefits for injured workers, but, interestingly
enough, California pays out some of the lowest benefits in the
country. The reason? The people who make money off the system
milk it for all its worth, and California business owners pay
the bill. This week, the California Legislature started hearings
to reform the system, since business owners have been complaining
about the system for well over a year. Republicans in the Legislature
have been calling for reform since August, 2002. Democrats have
been stalling on that reform for the same length of time.
the new Speaker of the Assembly announced that “we
need reform” but we “need the time to do it right.” This
shouldn’t be rushed, he said, because we “can’t
afford” to do it wrong.
I know that
the new Speaker has only been around for a few months, so he
remember how we got into this mess. In March, 2002, in 48 hours,
the Legislature, dominated by Democrats,
and the Governor, also a Democrat, met with the unions and the
trial lawyers (no business owners allowed), cut a deal to increase
benefits, and passed the bill. The meetings began Friday night,
the deal was cut Sunday, and by Monday at 5:00 p.m., the bill
was signed by the Governor. No need to go slow there, the Democrat
speaker thought then, the trial lawyers demanded action. They
got it, and business owners were forced to pay the freight.
the worker’s compensation crisis reached
critical mass. The Republican caucus introduced a comprehensive
package of fixes, most of which were killed outright. In September,
Arnold Schwarzenneger made reform a keystone of his compaign.
Immediately upon taking office in November, Governor Schwarzenegger
called a special session of the Legislature to deal with this
problem, but they left Sacramento for the year without holding
a hearing. In his state of the State address, Governor Schwarzenegger
demanded on January 5th that the Legislature act by March 1st.
Now, on February 11, the Democrats finally held their first hearing,
and said that they needed until April 16 to finish their work.
Gee whiz, thanks guys. April 16 is the last day to qualify
an initiative to fix the system if we want to get reform in the
next two years. If we wait until then, and the Democrats do nothing,
jobs will leave the state in droves, because business owners
can no longer afford the insurance. Do you think they picked
that date on purpose?
lawyers wanted to stick it to the business owners, they asked
to jump. The Democrat majority asked
how high. Now that the business owners are screaming about how
badly they got stuck, the Democrats are saying that they don’t
see the knife. We have to study the injury, they say, we need
to see if it really hurts, we need to know if that big knife
in the back of business is really real.
California jobs are leaving the state. If we don’t
act quickly, the job that leaves might be yours. Your boss might
take you with him to Arizona, or he or she might not. Make no
mistake, we could fix this tomorrow if the Speaker wanted to—he
just doesn’t want to. So if you lose your job because your
boss moves to Nevada, you now know why.