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Democrats snubbed by workers’ comp commission chair

Thursday, Jul 9, 2015

* From a press release…

State Rep. Jay Hoffman called a Wednesday hearing on reforms to Illinois’ workers’ compensation system and expected to hear from an official in Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration about the status of the system - an issue Rauner has stated is a priority. Instead, the public got the cold shoulder from Rauner, who again rejected transparency and an airing of issues the governor himself considers important.

“The ongoing secrecy from the governor and his administration has got to stop. It’s unfair to the taxpayers and constituents we serve who deserve a public discussion on issues that affect so many families,” Hoffman said. “We asked the governor’s administration to give us details of a report it issued on Illinois’ workers’ compensation system, but nobody showed. The governor has specifically said this issue must be addressed to his satisfaction before he will even discuss the budget. For no one to show up to discuss the issue is unacceptable.”

“The governor is using individuals who rely on the state, including the elderly, victims of child abuse and the developmentally disabled, to pass his extreme agenda. Then his administration does not even show up to discuss part of his agenda,” Hoffman added.

Hoffman, chair of the House Labor and Commerce Committee, invited Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission chair Joann Fratianni to a hearing to discuss the agency’s Fiscal Year 2014 report, issued on June 16. Neither Fratianni nor a designee from her office attended the hearing.

In the commission report’s opening letter, Fratianni informs Rauner that workers’ compensation costs in Illinois are declining, with insurers reporting a 19 percent decrease in benefit payments over the last four years. The letter also cites a study noting Illinois saw the largest savings on workers’ compensation insurance and the largest decrease in medical payments per claim.

“It baffles me why we can’t get cooperation from the governor or his administration and discuss a public report,” Hoffman said. “Studies seem to show that Illinois is making important strides toward reducing workers’ compensation costs, yet employers tell us they have yet to realize savings. We need to know why. I agree that we must reduce costs for employers, but any plan that has the potential effect of ruining workers’ lives and leaving them with little or nothing to get by when they are unable to work would only worsen Illinois’ economic challenges and endanger middle-class families.”

Wednesday’s hearing marked the seventh time in the last month Rauner or administration officials have failed to provide information to the public on a number of issues, including salaries given to highly paid administration staff.

* Kurt Erickson has more

In a letter to Hoffman, Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission Chairmwoman Joann Fratianni said she was too busy at work to take time to attend the hearing.

Perhaps, then, she could’ve sent an aide?

If they continue ignoring these committees, we might get to the point where subpoenas are issued. But we don’t seem to be nearing that juncture quite yet.

* More

A Rauner spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

That’s what they normally do. You call, send an e-mail or text and you hear nothing back when they don’t want to comment.

* More

Republican lawmakers say businesses haven’t seen the estimated $500 million that was supposed to be saved by the 2011 overhaul.

“There is still lots more room for improvement,” said state Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington.

There is, indeed, room for improvement here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Juvenal - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 9:19 am:

    One can only imagine the GOP furor if a Congressional Committee requested the Obama administration testify at a hearing and the White House refused to send anyone.

    It would be the lede on Fox News.

  2. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 9:20 am:

    You can choose to be accountable, prepare, take some lumps, make some hay, and try to be seen as a partner in governing.

    You can choose to stonewall, be a non-participant, give an impression that one branch need not work with another, and just plain hide when your narratibe isn’t ready for a rollout.

    You can choose.

    There’s always a learning curve, but a funny thing about a governmental learning curve; the more you ignore the learning curve, the faster the wheels of government go… better to learn and keep up, than to get run over.

    You choose. Your choices set in motion the results.

  3. - @MisterJayEm - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 9:27 am:

    A Rauner spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

    “When we have something for the press, we’ll send it to your advertising department — or your editorial board.”

    – MrJM

  4. - Norseman - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 9:27 am:

    Goldberg is too busy preparing his snark scripts to attend all these hearings.

  5. - Joe M - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 9:28 am:

    Lets face it, Rauner doesn’t want to have conversations or negotiations on issues - he only wants to dictate and have things his way.

  6. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 9:28 am:

    It has become a pattern that can’t be ignored.
    This administration is too incompetent to stay on its own message. They got the Mansion, and haven’t a clue what to do with it.

    When the Governor was a candidate, every nonsensical mistake he made, every non-answer he gave, was attributed to his ignorance as a candidate.

    After his inauguration, every nonsensical mistake he made, every poor answer he gave, was attributed to his ignorance as a governor.

    After seven months in office, we repeatedly see an administration that cannot get its act together, even when facing a dire crisis or a deadline. This administration is a complete mess.

    Ignorance is not a governing philosophy. Incompetence is not a managing style. Political spin is only temporary. Liars get caught. Temper tantrums on Twitter are unprofessional and immature. Eventually, Governor Rauner’s administration will have to govern. The time for excuses why a governor cannot deal with a speaker of the house, a senate president, or even propose a simple bill correctly - has ended.

  7. - Demoralized - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 9:31 am:

    ==businesses haven’t seen the estimated $500 million that was supposed to be saved ==

    Is that because the reforms didn’t work or because the insurance companies are pocketing the money?

  8. - walker - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 9:40 am:

    Perhaps the agency head could have said, “I am actively working on this exact issue, and can give you only half an hour of my time right now.”

    That would make everybody happy, except those who wanted to use the committee time to make speeches.

    If Rauner Team wants workers’ comp reforms, they’re going to have to work with Hoffman’s committee somehow.

    Has anyone else seen this level of disdain for the House or Senate hearings in previous administrations? I haven’t.

  9. - Apocalypse Now - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 9:50 am:

    She could have attended the meeting and heard Jay Hoffman go on and on and pontificate about the great things Democrats have done to fix Worker’s Compensation laws and the Republicans don’t want to do anything but destroy unions and the working man and woman. Now, why would anyone go to that meeting expecting a real give and take? Remember, Jay Hoffman has taken hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions from union members. Maybe, Jay would have replayed one of his famous rants for her, while she was there.

  10. - The Dude Abides - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 9:51 am:

    If the general public knew what was in Rauner’s Workman’s Comp reform plan there wouldn’t be a lot of public support for it. That’s the challenge for Rauner, to hold the budget hostage long enough to get this and other reforms passed while keeping the details of these reforms as secret as possible, at least until after they become law.

  11. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 9:52 am:

    Has anyone else seen this level of disdain for the House or Senate hearings in previous administrations?

    Not here in the United States.

  12. - 4 percent - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 9:52 am:

    The report says that there has been a 19 percent reduction in indemnity payments. A few pages later it also shows that the number of claims filed during the same period of time dropped from 53,000 to 44,000. So, there is an easy correlation that with a 20 percent drop in claims there will also be a nearly 20 percent reduction in indemnity payments.

    Not exactly a smoking gun.

  13. - Anon221 - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 9:55 am:

  14. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 9:55 am:

    Its not Democrats being snubbed it is the people that are being snubbed he needs to start showing up.

  15. - Arsenal - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:00 am:

    ==why would anyone go to that meeting expecting a real give and take?==

    It’s not about what you expect, it’s about what you want. Do you want WC reform? Okay, well, it goes through that committee. Go. Do you just want to attack the Dems for *not* passing WC reform? Okay, then you need to demonstrate that you’re trying to pass it. Go.

    Do you want to act like a petulant child and get nothing done on either your policy or political goals? Okay. Don’t go.

  16. - Anon221 - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:01 am:

  17. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:05 am:

    $125k a year and she can’t show up? What a superstar.

    At least Louis is dutifully shilling for Bruce, someone’s gotta produce.

  18. - walker - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:27 am:

    Committee Heads, especially of the high caliber of Hoffman, will take into consideration the time demands on agency and commission heads. If she wanted to make the time worthwhile, part of that was in her control. There are not only Dems on this committee either. Have heard some grumbling from Republican spokespersons about this same lack of respect from Team Rauner. Just sayin.

  19. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:35 am:

    Every 2 years the agency heads are re-appointed or new ones appointed.
    Perhaps the Senate should remind those appointees that this will come up in Jan. 2017

  20. - Just Me - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:36 am:

    I see the point in skipping sham hearings designed to discuss manufactured issues, but this was a real opportunity here, even in an unfriendly climate, to discuss why the system needs reform. Even if you get asked one-sided questions from the Democrats, you can set up questions from the Republicans.

  21. - Robert the Bruce - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:36 am:

    If workers comp reform is to be part of a grand tax hike bargain, Fratianni ought to show up.

  22. - Wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:49 am:

    That bunker the guv and his peeps hide out in must be awfully big. But I’m sure it’s tastefully decorated.

  23. - DuPage - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 10:51 am:

    In the situation where the state REQUIRES employers to buy something, the books should be open and the rates regulated, like many other states require. That is a factor in cost to employers.

  24. - Tommydanger - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 11:08 am:

    I’m sure she could be given the opportunity to read a prepared statement outlining the problems/solutions as seen through the Governor’s eyes and then, I would assume as an agency head/adult she could answer questions and still advocate for the Governor’s solutions while responding.

    I would equate her failure to show up with college student government tactics, but that would be an insult to college student governments.

  25. - cdog - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 11:41 am:

    ==with insurers reporting a 19 percent decrease in benefit payments over the last four years. The letter also cites a study noting Illinois saw the largest savings on workers’ compensation insurance and the largest decrease in medical payments per claim.==
    ==A few pages later it also shows that the number of claims filed during the same period of time dropped from 53,000 to 44,000.==

    Why are my rates are not dropping? Just like other economic sector monsters, BIG INSURANCE, is not regulated to benefit the consumer or policy holder. It is heavily lobbied to preserve the status quo and improve corporate bottom lines. I propose that this is the Rauner agenda here–double down on profits for one of the worst regulated industries, like Big Pharma, Big Health, Big Oil, etc. Big Insurance is where it’s at if you are used to playing the big games with billions.

    What Illinois needs, and the US, is a third party. If a coalition of marginally agreeable parties was the only way to proceed through governance of society, then a lot more would be accomplished. Any Progressive Independents out there? Can’t hear you if you are!

    Headline– RAUNER ADMINISTRATION ISSUED SUPBOENAS TO TESTIFY. Rauner Agenda In Trouble Due To Secrecy and Lack Of Transparency.

  26. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 9, 15 @ 1:53 pm:

    Its kinda like being shunned.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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