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Tom McClintock

Mr. McClintock is an expert on matters of the State budget and fiscal discipline. He is a Senator in the California State Legislature and ran for Governor in the 2003 recall election. His valuable website is found at [McClintock index]

the Shadow Governor
Workers Comp: A Step Forward
Floor remarks on bill passage...
[Tom McClintock] 4/19/04

Many of us had hoped for comprehensive reforms - instead, we have compromised reforms. But that's the nature of the process and in this case the process worked pretty well.

I believe that this law will significantly reduce costs over time and that it will produce more just and rational outcomes from a system that has become notorious for its arbitrary decisions, endless administrative delays and excessive litigation.

It is not fair or right or rational for a system designed to treat industrial accidents to take no notice of prior medical conditions, prior injuries or injuries sustained off the job. This measure begins to address this inequity by allowing these issues finally to be addressed, at least on the determination of disability payments.

It is not fair or right or rational for a system designed to treat injuries to ignore any objective medical standards in assessing those injuries - or to require any clinical verification that the injury is even real. This measure begins to address this inequity by introducing objective medical standards as the guide - again, at least to the determination of disability payments.

I have many concerns with this bill. Because it doesn't redress the awards that are now being paid under the old law, it will take some time for savings to be realized. Meanwhile, under the new law, California employers will see an immediate quintupling in surcharges to support administration of the existing program and the initiation of a new Return-to-Work program. That means $100 million of certain and immediate cost increases to businesses, while savings may be many months away.

I am also concerned with provisions that still potentially allow permanent disability awards of 700 percent of an individual's earning capacity by claiming injuries to different parts of the body. It is a measure of the defectiveness of the current system that this is actually an improvement over the status quo.

But viewed in its totality, there is no question that this constitutes a substantial improvement in the current system, and I have no hesitation in supporting it. It may be far less than what we need, but it is far more than what we have and far more than the cosmetic and meaningless reforms that this legislature has adopted in the past.

Remarks made on Senater floor 4/16/04 CRO




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