Panel approves $1 billion rebate to Ohio employers

Workers' compensation panel approves governor's proposed $1 billion rebate to Ohio businesses

Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Directors of Ohio's insurance fund for injured workers on Thursday unanimously approved Gov. John Kasich's proposal to send rebate checks ranging from $5 to more than $3 million to businesses, local governments and schools.

About 210,000 businesses and public employers would see one-time rebates in June or July under the $1 billion plan signed off on by the board of the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation.

Money for the one-time rebate stems from solid investments by the agency, which provides workers' compensation insurance for Ohio employers and covers about two-thirds of the state's workforce. The agency said its net assets have grown to $8.3 billion.

The rebate is separate from a court dispute over employer payments.

The state is appealing a judge's March decision awarding $860 million in repayments from the fund to employers the judge says were charged excessive premiums for nearly a decade.

The bureau has said the money involved in the lawsuit has been set aside.

The president of group representing the workers in the lawsuit acknowledged the rebate program would help Ohio employers reinvest in businesses.

However, Earl Stein, president of Pay Us Back Ohio BWC Inc., also said that if the bureau wanted to show its commitment to economic development, "it should immediately refund the $860 million the court ordered them to repay 270,000 employers." Stein is also a plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit.

Local governments and schools in Ohio could see almost $113 million in rebates, according to the Kasich administration.

Not all local governments or schools would get a rebate, because some employers are self-insured and don't pay into the bureau's system. But nearly 3,800 local governments and schools would see checks, the Kasich administration has said.

Schools would receive about $42.5 million in total — the largest slice of the $112.8 million being returned to public employers. Cities would get $37 million, while counties would see $16.5 million. Townships could expect $7.6 million.

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